A number of Barbudans currently living in two shelters in Antigua, at the expense of the government, will be asked to vacate those premises by the end of the month, according to the director of the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS).
Those shelters in question are the Nurses Hostel and the former Barrymore Hotel. Currently, there are 230 individuals living in the shelters and, of that number, 20 were given evacuation notices, while another 15 will be asked to leave after their children have completed various exams at the end of the current academic year.
In making the disclosure yesterday, Philmore Mullin said that those remaining will be transferred to the National Technical Vocational Centre.
“The numbers will be significantly reduced between now and the end of the month. Those persons whose children are going to school will be asked to go back to Barbuda. Again, I would like to re-iterate that there are at least two shelters that could be occupied almost immediately in Barbuda and we are working feverishly to complete a third,” Mullin said during yesterday’s post-Cabinet briefing.
The NODS director told reporters that the government will be closing the shelters shortly due to damage to the properties at the hands of some Barbudans who have been residing in Antigua since hurricane Irma slammed Barbuda in September last year.
Mullin said given the damage at both shelters, it would appear as though some Barbudans are not appreciative of the efforts made by the government or that they generally do not care.
He also explained that some of the Barbudans believe that once relief items are sent to the shelters they must have unfettered access to them. He noted that the items are distributed on a scheduled basis. However, a handful of the evacuees refuse to wait and would instead help themselves to the supplies from the different storage areas.
Speaking specifically to the present conditions of the Nurses Hostel, that was retrofitted to provide a more comfortable space for Barbudans, the NODS official said several doors are broken, and the locks on refrigerators that were purchased are also damaged.
“The level of cleanliness and vandalism [are] cause for concern. The government spent a significant amount of money in preparing the Anchorage Inn and the Nurses Hostel and then, in the case of the Nurses Hostel, provided all of the necessities to make the Barbudans comfortable in that space.
“This is being done by a very small minority. It is already in the public domain that a significant sum of money has to be spent to repair the stadium after it was vacated by Barbudans [and] I can tell you that a similar activity will have to be carried out at the Barrymore Hotel and the Nurses Hostel,” Mullin said.
He added that the agency is concerned about what he described was a vexing issue.
Meanwhile, the NODS director also disclosed that once the Barbudans vacate Nurses Hostel, the residents at the Fiennes Institute will be relocated there so that the government can repair the building in which the currently reside.