Cuba sent the first shipment of humanitarian aid to the Bahamas Wednesday, as the archipelago was severely hit earlier this month by Hurricane Dorian causing 50 dead so far in addition to great devastation.
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A plane from the national airline Cubana de Aviacion took off Wednesday shortly before noon with the cargo, as "solidarity embrace" with the Bahamian people and government, Deputy Director-General of Economic Collaboration of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment (Mincex) Raciel Proenza told Prensa Latina.
The official announced that in the next coming days a Cuban vessel with further supplies and provisions will be sent to the archipelago.
He added that Cuba organized a medical brigade from the Henry Reeve contingent, created by the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, to deal with situations of epidemics, catastrophes, and natural disasters.
The brigade will be ready to leave as soon as the ongoing coordination with the Bahamas authorities is finalized, explained Proenza.
Havana also offered the support of assistants from the Electric Union to help restore the energy service in the Bahamian islands.
“Bahamas can count on Cuba,” Proenza finally expressed, adding the island’s willingness to provide a brigade equipped with chainsaws for the cleaning of fallen trees that prevent transit in the Bahamas.
The sending of aid is consistent with what was expressed by Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel regarding his country’s willingness to contribute to the recovery of the Caribbean nation “according to the island’s possibilities and despite the economic restrictions caused by the United States blockade,” said Proenza.
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The Bahamas endured three days of one of the strongest storms on record and the worst to hit the archipelago. Some 90 percent of the homes, buildings, and infrastructure in Marsh Harbour, a town in the Abaco Islands, were damaged, the World Food Programme said.
Bahamian authorities announced that the death toll remains at 50 people and that reports of it being of thousands of people are false.
Thousands of people now are living in a government building, a medical center and an Anglican church that survived the storms but have little or no access to water, power, and sanitary facilities.
Some 70,000 people are in need of food and shelter, the WFP estimated. Private forecasters estimate that some US$3 billion of uninsured properties were destroyed or damaged.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet opened a Human Rights Council session in Geneva on Monday with a minute of silence for hurricane victims.
"We have to be extremely cautious with these false reports because they affect people who are already very impacted emotionally," authorities said.