God help the average Bahamian

Dear Editor, 

Dear prime minister, I spent six hours yesterday (Thursday) at Jet Aviation trying desperately and unsuccessfully to evacuate my family members from Abaco.

My niece, Jennifer Sears, her companion, Myron Delancy, and her four children (ages one, three, five and eight), lost everything they owned in Murphy Town, Abaco, during Hurricane Dorian. My brother, Peter Sears, his wife, Collette Sears, who is disabled, their two sons and a disabled daughter, lost everything they owned in Murphy Town as well. After the hurricane, with nothing but the clothes on their backs, they managed to get to the Sandy Point Airport waiting for days to be evacuated to Nassau. Hopefully, we will get them out today (Friday).

As I observed the desperate survivors arrive from Abaco, it seems that there is no justice for poor people in The Bahamas. Only government officials, wealthy companies, the critically injured, U.S. citizens or those with means or influence are being evacuated from Abaco.

However, the global humanitarian practice is to first evacuate, free of charge, all victims of a national or traumatic disaster to a safe and secure location with proper facilities; then secure and protect the disaster areas; then assess the damage; and then implement a rational restoration plan, based on national policies.

God help the average Bahamian, who is not a priority, even in the aftermath of this national disaster. What I saw yesterday (Thursday) in the faces of Bahamians and friends arriving from Abaco is a sad reflection of the total collapse of the Bahamian state, leaving thousands of Bahamians bruised for life.

I saw and spoke with the military officers of a Jamaican Defence Force specialist plane that came from Jamaica to conduct aerial mapping of Abaco and Grand Bahama, but was stuck on the ground at Jet Aviation because they could not get priority clearance from Civil Aviation to fly and therefore had to abandon their mission.

Evacuate the people who want to leave out of these intolerable conditions, without charge, to secure locations where they can be processed, counseled, reunited with family members and assisted, over time, to get back on their feet!

Alfred Sears, QC, former attorney general

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