(CMR) The Bahamanian people are being criticized for the approach that some are taking towards the ex-pat community in their islands; particularly Haitians in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
There have been multiple videos circulating in the social media community showing some persons asking for Haitians and expats to be handled inhumanely. These come as food supplies are at an all-time low and thousands of people are being housed in temporary government shelters.
As the international community rallies to assist the people in their recovery efforts these tensions have been widely circulated on social media platforms including Facebook and WhatsApp. Many have claimed that Haitians have always been discriminated against in the Bahamas and unfairly blamed for crimes.
Ministers of religion and others have been criticized as well as common folks for their less than Christian like approach in dealing with the already marginalized Haitian communities; many of who are said to have no legal status in the Bahamas. In some instances force and starving people have been recommended to decrease the Haitian population.
There have also been some fake videos showing a graphic scene of burned bodies – claiming those are Haitians that have been killed by Bahamian people. CMR has verified that this video is not related to the Bahamas at all.
One video that is real is of an elder woman encouraging defense force officers to drown Haitians caught at sea. She stated:
“Even God is tired of Haitians”
A Jamaican national made a lengthy Facebook post responding to some of the concerns and hatred now boiling into the community. He explains some of the immigration policies in Haiti and his surprise and dismay at some of the negativity that has resulted in this stressful time.
Undocumented Haitians occupy a large shanty town area of Abaco called “The Mudd” and “Pigeon Peas”. Many have fled political instability, poverty and natural disasters in their own countries and taken refuge in the Bahamas.
The official number of dead remains at XX but many fear it could be far higher because of the number of undocumented Haitians and descendants of Haitians. It has been stated that many of these persons fear deportation if they report missing relatives or friends. An estimated 30% of the Abaco Islands' 17,200 people are said to be of Haitian descent.
In 2014 The Bahamas government mandated that all people have passports and deportation raids were commonplace before the hurricane hit. The New York Times carried an article which stated that minister of immigration, Elsworth Johnson, has said that the government will be suspending deportation roundups for the time being.
“Eventually persons will come out of those shelters, and we know that people are leaving those shelters, and if they’re not properly documented, then we apply the law,”
Mr. Johnson said.