Renette Harding is desperately trying to get her 79-year-old parents and 19-year-old son home to The Bahamas.
Harding said they are all trapped in The United States after The Bahamas government closed the country’s borders.
On Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said empty planes can come into The Bahamas to pick up passengers and leave.
“It is realized that this is likely to result in the dislocation of Bahamian nationals and residents who are abroad and seeking to return home,” the statement read.
“We urge you to make direct contact with the nearest Bahamian embassy, high commission or honorary consulate.”
Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said on Friday the government decided to shut down borders for all incoming people, including Bahamian residents and citizens, due to the surge in COVID-19 cases in the United States.
Harding said she can’t fathom how her parents, Corale and Delton Moree, and her son, Ryan Price, will get back home.
“I am very concerned that they will be trapped abroad,” she told The Nassau Guardian on Saturday.
“I think their chances are better here where their family is, where we can bring them the support they need. Right now, they are in a foreign country. They have nobody around them.
“My son is there, he is 19. He is a young adult. I can’t believe that the government of The Bahamas would deny them entry into their own country.
“They have traveled through the airports and therefore they have been scanned, so it’s not like they have the virus.
“I don’t understand how the government can deny them access to their home and they are 79.”
COVID-19 is spreading across the U.S. and there has been a surge of cases in The Bahamas as well.
There are 10 cases in The Bahamas and over 116,000 in the U.S.
The UN Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”
Further, The Bahamas’ constitution, under Article 25, says that no person “shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of movement, and for the purposes of this Article the said freedom means the right to move freely throughout The Bahamas, the right to reside in any part thereof, the right to enter The Bahamas, the right to leave The Bahamas and immunity from expulsion therefrom”.
Harding’s parents traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 16 to visit her mother’s sister.
“My mother’s sister turned 97 and she felt she had to be there for that,” she said.
During the week, Harding said, the family contacted the Bahamian consulate in Atlanta to ensure that they could still return home.
“So, we contacted the consulate in Atlanta and she told them to get to Atlanta and that there was a flight from Atlanta to Nassau that the government had approved,” Harding said.
“There were two actually. We got them there for the one that was approved for today. But when they were en route and got to Atlanta, they were told that it was canceled and the consulate basically told them that they were on their own.”
The Nassau Guardian contacted the consulate, but an official said they were not authorized to comment on the matter.
The Guardian was told to contact Director General Sharon Haylock.
When contacted on Saturday night, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General Sharon Haylock could not comment specifically to the Moree’s situation.
However, she noted that the ministry has been getting a number of calls and emails related to Bahamians who are stranded overseas. She said a team from the ministry is seeking to respond to every call and email.
“We are trying as best as possible to help them,” she said.
She added, “We have to talk to them. As we get phone calls and emails, we funnel that to each overseas office.”
She noted that while she cannot do much in the way of the policy decision made by the government to close the borders, the ministry is doing its best to lend assistance to those Bahamians who are abroad. That assistance includes calling loved ones and employers.
She noted that there are Bahamians in the Dominican Republic, Canada and the U.S.
Harding said her son, who was in Virgina, traveled to Atlanta as well, hoping to get on the flight.
She said the consulate advised them to get to Florida and contact the Miami consulate.
“We thought it was best to get them closer to Nassau,” Harding said.
“We got them on a flight and they are actually in the air as we speak. They are on their way to Fort Lauderdale. Hopefully, I was hoping that if they get to Fort Lauderdale maybe the government would arrange for a Bahamasair flight that could bring them directly home.”
She said the family is battling to get her parents and son home.
“We have to find some place for them stay,” Harding said.
“Right now, there is a condo available for them to stay in until we can get them home but we don’t know how long they can stay in this condo.
“We also don’t know how they are going to get from the airport to the condo. I don’t know if Ubers or taxi cabs are running. We don’t know anyone in Fort Lauderdale like to say, ‘Hey, can you go pick them up and take them somewhere?’ We don’t know.
“We would really like to get them home. It’s urgent because we don’t have the crisis like they have in America.”
*This story has been updated to include comments from Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General Sharon Haylock.