Dealing with crime, a major challenge in shelters

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A major challenge in shelter management is determining when a crime has been committed and how to deal with allegations concerning crime.
“If a crime is committed in the shelter it is still a crime,” said Philmore Mullin, director of the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS).
He made the disclosure to OBSERVER media following a two-day shelter management workshop earlier this week.
“The shelter manager has a responsibility to determine whether the matter gets reported to the police, if a warning is issued or some other solution to that situation is found,“ Mullins elaborated.
“The shelter managers do have quite a bit to deal with. There have been cases where the police have been called in. There have been cases where persons have been charged. A shelter has rules that makes it clear to those in the shelter that if they cross these lines then there are consequences.”
Claiming that the workshop was successful, the NODS director is happy that more Barbudans than Antiguans attended the exercise, which was financed to the tune of U.S. $6,000 by the United States Agency for International Development (US AID).
“It was quite successful,” said Mullin as he reiterated challenges faced at disaster shelters. “There have been arguments, fights and theft in the shelters,” he said.
Noting that 10 to 15 Barbudans were among the 23 workshop participants, Mullin said that many of them currently live in shelters in Antigua.
He added that they will be an asset to Barbuda when they return to the disaster management programme on the sister island.
He also disclosed that “it has always been a challenge to get a good number of Barbudans at these workshops as they would have to come across to Antigua.
“In the past we may get one or two Barbudans to come across. This time we had 10 to 15 Barbudans at the workshop, which ran from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on both days.”
Participants were educated on where shelters should be located and what they should look like, the basic things to look for when one inspects a shelter and whether or not the shelter is exposed to various hazards.
They were also informed about the administrative side of shelter management as well as personal hygiene, personal health and how to deal with individuals who have medical conditions in shelters.
Participants were taught about managing relief supplies and the entire process of organising a shelter. They were also guided in counselling, which involved identifying when someone is overly stressed after suffering from a disaster, and how to deal with such situations.

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