IOM Steps Up Response in the Bahamas After Hurricane Dorian Devastation

Date Publish: 
09/10/2019

Nassau – As search and rescue operations continue in Abaco and Grand Bahama, islands in the Bahamas devastated last week by Hurricane Dorian, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is moving quickly to mobilise resources to assist rehabilitation efforts. Yesterday (09/09), IOM started the distribution of 1,000 tarpaulin coats in Marsh Harbour – the largest urban centre in Abaco.  The tarps will be used as a temporary fix for roofs torn by the violent Category 5 storm.

In places like Marsh Harbour, the devastation is particularly startling. Communities such as The Mudd and Pigeon Pea, where 70 per cent of informal housing in Abaco existed, and where an overwhelming majority of Haitian migrants resided, has been decimated.

"The Mudd is gone," said IOM's Brian Kelly, who is now leading the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team in the area. “They [the Haitian migrants] are in a very tough situation, just as many of the Bahamians. A lot of people are facing very difficult circumstances and we're going to help out as much as we can."

On Sunday (08/09) IOM participated in an assessment mission to Abaco, along with representatives from UNICEF, UNDP and Mission of Hope. The team visited most of the emergency shelters on the island.

"According to official reports, approximately 76,000 people were affected by Dorian. Thousands of people have been evacuated from the affected areas; about 860 people are being housed in emergency shelters in Nassau.  The rest of the people remain in the affected areas," said Vynliz Dailey, the IOM officer in the assessment mission. "No electricity or running water is available, and parts of the affected communities, particularly in Abaco, are destroyed and are uninhabitable."

Jan-Willem Wegdam, IOM's emergency response coordinator, has met with the office of the Prime Minister and other government officials responsible for mass evacuation and emergency shelter, to coordinate the response to the affected population. 

"We are committed to using all resources made available to us to support the Government and people of Bahamas during this difficult time," declared Wegdam. "We have specialists and experts on the ground and on the way to ensure that we deliver the best possible service to those who need it the most in the shortest possible time. Even during the emergency phase, we are focused on medium- and long-term strategies that will contribute to the development of the islands."

Wegdam stated that IOM is preparing to roll out its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) and support the coordination of emergency shelters and household repair solutions, among other responses. To this end, experts on Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM), Migrants in Countries in Crises (MICIC) and DTM will be deployed this week to strengthen the team on the ground and to begin project implementation.

For more information please contact Jorge Gallo at the IOM Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, Tel: +506 7203 6536, Email: jgallo@iom.int

Tags: 
hurricane dorian, dorian, bahamas, emergency, disaster

IOM Offers Real-Time Information for People Displaced by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas

Date Publish: 
20 / 09 / 2019

Nassau – Almost three weeks after Hurricane Dorian decimated Abaco and Grand Bahamas islands, almost 2,000 persons evacuated from these islands remain in shelters in New Providence, a few kilometres west of Nassau. Many more are temporarily accommodated with family and friends. The International Organization 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.

“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,” said Jan-Willem Wegdam, IOM team leader in The Bahamas. “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, 18 September, 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. “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.”

For more information please contact Vynliz Dailey in the Bahamas, Email: vdailey@iom.int, Tel +1 (767) 615-6681.