Georgetown, Guyana – (September 23, 2019) Minister of Citizenship, Mr. Winston Felix, while welcoming home a second family of five from hurricane-ravaged island, The Bahamas, emphasized Government’s willingness to facilitate the return of other Guyanese survivors.
Guyanese Vanessa Tate, her Bahamian husband, Stevie Cooper and their three children, Stevie Jr., age 5; Steven, age 3 and 3-month-old Steve, landed at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri around 22:00 hrs last night. Caribbean Airlines flew the family home free of cost following a request for humanitarian assistance in getting 23 Guyanese back on home soil.
“We had sent the message to them [Guyanese in The Bahamas] that we [Government] are willing and ready to help them on return to Guyana. Initially, we had a list of about 102 persons indicating an interest. Then it broken down to about 28. Five came last week, five arrived [last night] and two are to come … next week. We don’t know if others will join that list but so far, we know that two others are expected to return to Guyana on this very flight next Sunday night,” he said.
Minister Felix said the way forward for this family will be determined after they are interviewed, adding that their expectations are known. He informed that there are citizenship issues to be dealt with, as the husband is a Bahamian while the children were born to a Guyanese mother outside of Guyana. “…We would have to walk them through the process to regularization,” he said.
Meanwhile, the couple described the ordeal as “horrible”.
“It’s nothing that no one wants to live through,” Ms. Tate said, explaining that entire families were swept away by waves. “Our house, the entire roof came off, so it’s like literally going through a scary movie. God is good,” she said.
The couple fled their home with the children in the middle of the storm. Ms. Tate, who was last in Guyana about six years ago said that it was “shocking” to return home to a ministerial welcome.
Last week Minister Felix chaired a meeting held with aircraft owners and operators and various Government entities to streamline efforts, to facilitate the return of Guyanese from the island and to get feedback on a draft National Policy, which will outline a coordinated approach for assisting Guyanese based in Caribbean territories, who are affected by natural disasters.
The meeting discussed making an approach to Caribbean Airlines for humanitarian assistance to bring home the affected Guyanese; Government subsidizing the cost of the aircraft bringing returning Guyanese and the use of the [GDF] sky van in the repatriation exercise.
Hurricane Dorian, a Category five storm made land fall on September 1. It pummelled the Abaco Island and Grand Bahama for three days, leaving at least 43 people dead and hundreds missing. It also left behind enormous infrastructural damage.