Barbadians travelling in the region, especially between June 1 and November 30, should be mindful that a natural disaster could occur and should be knowledgeable about where to turn to and be prepared for any eventuality.
According to former Head of the Consular Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Natalie Cox, if an overseas territory is affected by a natural disaster, the Ministry provides assistance if the case is critical and considered an emergency.
“Critical would be in the case of a natural disaster, where there are several Barbadians trapped in an environment and if there is no airlift or flight arrangement for them to be evacuated, that is an emergency,” she explained.
She said that last year, the Ministry assisted with the emergency evacuation of Barbadians and other nationals from Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda and neighbouring islands after Hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked havoc on those countries.
Pointing out that the Ministry primarily functions as a liaison between distressed persons, family and several key agencies, she said: “Usually if there is a national disaster, there is a response mechanism in place. We would consult the Barbadian Defence Force, the Coast Guard and other entities.”
Ms. Cox stressed that it was important to keep identification cards and passports in a waterproof container or package, as these documents would assist with easier facilitation, should there be an emergency evacuation.
She also encouraged travelling Barbadians to make themselves “safer” by providing someone at home with their whereabouts and contact information for emergency purposes.
“It is the responsibility and obligation of family members to assist in a timely manner unless there is some adverse case where government really has to intervene,” Ms. Cox explained.
She added that when persons are travelling to another jurisdiction, they should know the name, address, and contact information of the Barbadian Embassy, High Commission, Consul or Honorary Consul in the destination and call on them in times of distress.
“Whether it is the Caribbean or elsewhere, you must prepare yourself beforehand. Know the names of officials or the organisations that are associated with the Government of Barbados through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If you are going to New York, you should apprise yourself that there is a Consulate General in New York. If you are going to Saint Lucia, you should know there is an honorary consul, even though we don’t have a mission there. They are there as your eyes and ears in that jurisdiction and they are at your disposal; call upon them,” she stated.
Ms. Cox also advised persons to acquire travel insurance whenever going overseas.
“The Government during its financial adversities and austerities cannot provide for every Barbadian who may be in a state of distress. So, we are reliant on persons to become armed with the necessary financial resources to assist them,” Ms. Cox stressed.
For more information, persons may contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade at 431-2200. They may also download the list of Barbados’ Missions and Consulates at http://www.foreign.gov.bb/foreign-relations/travelling.