In 2020, IOM seeks to respond to the humanitarian and recovery needs of the population affected by hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, as well as to build the resilience of communities impacted by recurring natural hazards in the country.
On 1 September 2019, Hurricane Dorian, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the Atlantic, caused catastrophic flooding and devastated several areas in the north-western part of the Bahamas. With wind speeds of up to 220mph and gusts of 310mph, Dorian decimated the low-lying islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama. The Government of the Bahamas reported in January 2020 the official deaths of 71 persons and 282 persons missing. According to the official Census 2010, the islands of Abaco and the Grand Bahama are home to approximately 17,000 and 51,000 residents, respectively. Abaco is also home to a large irregular Haitian migrant population living in shantytowns that were completely devastated and whose irregular status may have prevented them from seeking assistance. According to the Shelter Cluster Bahamas, it is estimated that 9,000 homes were affected. Damage to the housing sector is estimated at $1.48 billion USD, 88.9 per cent of which took place in Abaco.
As of January 2020, IOM estimates that 2,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) are still residing in collective centres, rental apartments and with host families in Nassau, and according to the Miami based Consul General of The Bahamas, an estimated 650 people reside in Florida. Families have been gradually returning back to the affected islands. IOM Haiti reported that more than 700 migrants have been repatriated to Haiti since Hurricane Dorian. The Ministry of Housing and Environment has issued a Prohibition to Build Order for the Mudd, Pigeon Pea, Sand Bank and Farm Road community areas located in the island of Abaco, where a large number of vulnerable irregular migrants used to live.
Over the past few years, the Bahamas has been seriously affected by three major hurricanes, all Category 4 or stronger, depleting family resources and significantly impacting the ability of communities to recover from disasters.