In an article penned by Anesta Henry in today’s edition of Barbados Today, under the headline “Displaced residents must relocate as health officials look to house COVID 19 patients there”, it was stated that “thirty-six (36) Barbadians who have called the Barbados Workers’ Union’s Frank Walcott Labour College at Mangrove home since the July 3 passage of Hurricane Elsa, now have to move to new accommodation as health officials look to take over the St. Philip facility as an isolation centre for COVID 19 patients”.
In fact, there were only twenty-six (26) persons to be relocated from the Labour College and not thirty-six (36) as stated in the article.
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Elsa, the Government of Barbados, through the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs and the Ministry of Housing & Lands, committed to assisting displaced persons with temporary accommodation and for the repair or rebuilding of their homes, as required.
To this end, the College was being used as emergency housing for some of the displaced families and individuals. These consisted of fourteen (14) households comprising the twenty-six (26) individuals.
In the interest of national public health, and with children preparing to return to face-to-face classes, Government has been seeking alternative patient facilities. This then became an immediate national priority and responsibility.
Residents are therefore not being “thrown out,” but rather relocated to facilities equally as comfortable as their present lodgings. New accommodations were not assigned randomly, but only after full assessments by social workers of each household’s circumstance and coping capacity. This is to ensure that relocation is as smooth, easy and dignified as possible for all residents.
Also, contrary to the Barbados Today report, residents will not be expected to find their own transportation to their places of relocation but will be transported at the expense of Government. Anyone who had an objection to an assigned location, was accommodated as far as possible.
The Government of Barbados continues to honour its commitment to individuals and families who were displaced by Hurricane Elsa, even as it seeks to overcome the current troubling public health challenges.