Two Haitians living in Jamaica, who were hoping to join the early hurricane relief efforts in The Bahamas, were left stranded in Florida last week. Immigration officials insisted that they needed a Bahamian visa to enter the country.

Emergency disaster coordinator for the Salvation Army in the Caribbean, Major Vilo Exhantus, said he and another colleague from Montego Bay, St James, had travelled to the United States on Tuesday evening, with the intention of flying to The Bahamas on Wednesday to help coordinate and distribute well- needed supplies to citizens of the hurricane-ravished country.

The Bahamas was devastated by the powerful Category 5 Hurricane Dorian earlier this month. More than 70,000 people have been affected and at least 50 persons were killed.

Exhantus said when the Salvation Army officers turned up at the Fort Pierce airport on Wednesday to board the private plane awaiting them, he and a colleague, Captain Kenel Jean, were kept back, while the other officers, who were from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, were allowed to go ahead.

“We were given clearance. Our representatives in The Bahamas went to immigration and the government and they said yes, we could come, but then now that we are ready to go, they said that it has been changed, we need to have a Bahamian visa to get in,” Exhantus explained when The Sunday Gleaner contacted him on Thursday morning. Continue reading

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