The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
UUSC Will Provide Resources to Bahamian Communities Impacted by Hurricane Dorian
Update, September 24, 2019: In line with UUSC’s overall crisis response strategy, UUSC staff have been following conditions on the ground, consulting with local groups, and coordinating with interested donors to identify locally led relief and recovery efforts aimed at reaching particularly vulnerable populations. There are an estimated 8,000 undocumented Haitian migrants in the Bahamas, many of whom have been displaced from Abaco to Nassau and other islands. Thousands are living in overcrowded shelters and are facing uncertain futures, as the government has stated that it will be at least six months until rebuilding in Abaco begins. Meanwhile, the Bahamian government has assured no discrimination in relief services, but the Prime Minister has at the same time declared that undocumented immigrants will face no protections and be subject to apprehension and deportation in accordance with existing law. As we have seen in other disaster situations like Hurricane Harvey, this climate of fear adversely impacts the ability of survivors to access relief and impedes their long-term recovery. UUSC is continuing to assess how and where it can add the most value to ongoing relief and recovery efforts in the Bahamas.
Hurricane Dorian has hit the Bahamas and left death and displacement in its wake. The images that we’re seeing and the stories we’re hearing are unsettling, frightening, and heartbreaking.
The Category 5 hurricane ripped children away from their parents as floodwaters ravaged small communities. Entire neighborhoods were reduced to rubble. Estimates put the death toll at 50 and the media is reporting that there are more than 1,300 missing.
At UUSC, we’ve spent nearly 80 years providing help to those who’ve already struggled against unjust power structures, governments, and systems. We’ve devoted our resources to assisting those who’ve been rendered powerless due to xenophobia, racism, and bigotry.
Hurricane Dorian’s impact has severely affected several communities on the islands.
For example, did you know that thousands of Haitian laborers and their families live in large shantytowns on Great Abaco Island called the Mudd and Pigeon Peas? These migrants, attempting to build lives for their families, face xenophobia and bigotry when they arrive in the Bahamas. Working low-wage jobs, they live in poverty and are often mistreated due to language barriers and their undocumented status. They are also heavily exploited.
Hurricane Dorian’s violent winds and rain have destroyed many of the homes in these shantytowns. On top of having to face xenophobia, racism, and hatred, they are also tasked with rebuilding their homes, preserving their communities, and ensuring that their families remain healthy in the face of Dorian’s destruction. All with little or no assistance from the government.
UUSC is here to help. Our campaign will help those Bahamians who are unseen, like those on Great Abaco Island. With the support of UUSC members, we will:
- Partner with local organizations working with underserved communities;
- Support local efforts to rebuild in impoverished areas;
- Assist local initiatives to build systems that support these communities.
In the coming weeks and months, we will seek out partnerships with grassroots organizations on the ground who are working to support these unseen communities. UUSC and its members will engage in transformative partnerships in the Bahamas to provide much-needed assistance after other relief organizations have left.
We will help rebuild, provide resources, support families, and establish relationships with local groups that serve the communities that are often overlooked by mainstream relief efforts.
Please consider supporting our long-term recovery in the Bahamas by making a gift today.