Bahamas: 3 Weeks After, 2000 Hurricane Victims Still Displaced

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Almost 2,000 persons who were evacuated from the Hurricane Dorian that decimated Abaco and Grand Bahamas islands three weeks ago are still in shelters in New Providence, a few kilometres west of Nassau.

Many more are temporarily accommodated with family and friends. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is exploring with the government of The Bahamas the implementation of a cloud-based system which can be used to facilitate shelter management and family reunification.

IOM team leader in The Bahamas, Jan-Willem Wegdam, said “after a disaster like Hurricane Dorian, reliable information is one of the most critical components of response and recovery efforts.  Sadly, as the pressure builds to address humanitarian needs, it is often overlooked.

“To ensure that IOM implements efficient and relevant programmes, the emergency response team has engaged in several dialogues with government officials, local NGOs and other international humanitarian partners to exchange ideas and finalise project concepts.”

On Wednesday, September 18, IOM staff in Nassau met with representatives of the Department of Social Services – the institution in charge of managing government-run shelters. During the meeting, the government officials outlined their current information management practices and shared the needs of the institution in that regard.  Thereafter, IOM presented methodologies and products to support the ministry with managing information on evacuees and other displaced individuals and their needs.

One such product was the Integrated Shelter Registration System (SIRA) – an electronic system used to connect Government approved collective centres under a single cloud-based system which can be used to facilitate shelter management.  If implemented, the system would allow the department to generate real-time report on the status and needs of the population living in collective centres.

“Capturing that type of data is important because the population in the collective centres is changing constantly”, IOM Information Management and Research Officer, David Morales, said, adding, “so updated information is fundamental to support the humanitarian response of all the partners.”

Following the meeting, IOM has shared a detailed proposal for a comprehensive data collection strategy to be implemented over the next few months in support of recovery and rehabilitation efforts.

Considering how the exchange of information between humanitarian partners, officials, emergency managers and those impacted by Hurricane Dorian, is so vital, IOM on Thursday (19 September), met with the Ministry of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration.

The dialogue was considered as an opportunity to start what will hopefully be a long-lasting conversation between the Government and IOM, as well as the rest of the humanitarian community, on challenges and options to address the needs of affected persons of Haitian descent, in both regular and irregular status.

“Challenges and issues related to migration status and cultural diversity have already come up as part of people’s access to all forms of assistance in the aftermath of the hurricane”, said Lorenzo Guadagno, manager of IOM’s MICIC (Migrants in Countries in Crisis) capacity building activities, “anticipating and addressing them will be essential to successful response and recovery for the migrants as well as for the whole community.”

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