Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has advised Dominicans against mass evacuation to Dominica from Irma-affected islands in which they are residing.
He said at a press conference on Monday that the idea is a badly conceived one that should not be encouraged.
“On the question of the mass evacuation of Dominicans from these islands, I think it is a badly conceived idea and it is something that should not be encouraged,” he said. “Our Dominicans in these islands are part of the community, in St Maarten and the BVI and we believe that they have a responsibility to remain there and assist with the rebuilding of these countries.”
Skerrit stated that Dominicans play a very critical role in the economic and social development of these countries and if they were to leave these islands, it will be even more difficult for them to recover from the disaster.
“As a matter of fact when I was in the BVI the Minister for Public Works, Mr. Vanterpool, was thanking me for the presence of Dominicans in the BVI because they have had the experience of Hurricane David, so they know of the challenges; they know of the difficulties we had in hurricane David and they are playing a critical role,” he stated.
According to Skerrit, a number of Dominicans form part of the National Emergency Management Organization of the BVI and they have been helping coordinating relief efforts.
“So you can imagine Dominicans who were police officers, who were nurses, who were Doctors, who were engineers, who were builders there, who were business people there…,” he stated. “When I look at St Maarten even from my own constituency there are people who are there. If we go to remove these people, extract them I think it would be a bad signal from the part of the government to want to do this to a sister country that has been exceptionally helpful to Dominica.”
Meantime, Skerrit said his government is committed to assisting with the education of children who reside in the countries affected.
“What we are doing, and what we will do as a government is that persons who for one reason or the other, because of their vulnerabilities, you may have also children in school who want to continue school, we will assist in transporting them to Dominica,” he explained.
Skerrit continued, “As a matter of fact we have gotten a commitment from the President of the Regional Council of Martinique. He is making a ferry available of over 150 seats.”
He also said the told Dominicans in Anguilla that if they have children who they really want to get into schools, “we would assist in transporting those children back and ensuring that spaces at the schools are made available for them and providing them with all the logistical support to attend any school of their choice in Dominica.”