World

Bahamas: Humanitarian Agencies Coordinate Shelter Assistance For Displaced Hurricane Victims

By Akanimo Sampson

Alongside the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has taken the lead to assist the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Renewal with shelter coordination and management in Bahamas.   

Through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the government has taken the responsibility of coordinating the emergency response from its Nassau-based National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC).  

The previous week, an Emergency Support Function (ESF) humanitarian coordination structure was developed and is made up of 13 ESFs.  Each of these has their own lead government ministries and departments and are paired with United Nations agencies to implement activities.  

IOM Communications Officer, Vynliz Dailey, explains “IOM has been partnered directly with ESF-6, which deals with mass care and shelter and is led by officials of the Ministry of Social Services.”

Thousands of Bahamian residents displaced after Hurricane Dorian are being housed in gymnasiums, schools, churches and other emergency shelters while the government and humanitarian partners move quickly to identify more durable, longer term housing solutions.  

Through almost daily meetings with government officials and other humanitarian agencies and partners, solutions to the gaps identified regarding non-food item (NFI) distribution, communication, shelter capacity and protection issues, among others, are being identified. By the end of this week, IOM expects to submit a list of recommendations to ESF-6 to address the matters at hand. 

“It’s going to take a lot of effort and coordination with many stakeholders to get the people into more suitable accommodations”, said IOM Team Leader, Jan-Willem Wegdam. “IOM has been given the responsibility to support those efforts and we are more than happy to assist. On the ground all the agencies are willing to collaborate with us and are dedicated to doing the work we have been tasked to do.”  

As of September 10, NEMA reported 2,043 people registered in shelters in New Providence alone, which includes many Haitian migrants. At that time a total of six shelters were in use. That number is expected to change as people continue to be evacuated from the affected islands to Nassau. An IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) expert based in Haiti has been deployed and will begin DTM assessments with multi-agency teams in the coming days.   

In the meantime, with support from a local partner, IOM has distributed most of the 1,000 tarpaulins delivered to Marsh Harbour Port, Marsh Harbour – Abaco, on 10 September 2019.  Distributions were supervised by IOM’s Head of Community Stabilization Unit from Washington DC, Brian Kelly, stationed in Abaco, who is also leading the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team in that area.  

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