Dutch soldiers provide aid on hurricane Dorian-hit Bahamas

Dutch soldier surveying the Bahamas island of Abaco from a helicopter after Hurricane Dorian, Sept 2019
Dutch soldier surveying the Bahamas island of Abaco from a helicopter after Hurricane Dorian, Sept 2019Photo: Defensie

Dutch soldiers are going to provide aid in the Bahamas. The island group was hit hard by Hurricane Dorian. The core tasks of the mission Disaster Relief Bahamas will be to help clean up the massive destruction left by the hurricane and to support aid organizations and the local population where needed, commander Ad van de Sande said to newspaper AD.

Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas a week and a half ago. Around 2,500 people are still missing. The authorities expect that the current death toll of 50 will still increase considerably. The hurricane did enormous damage on the islands, destroying countless homes. Large areas are still under water. The United Nations estimates that the natural disaster left at least 76 thousand people homeless.

Dutch Navy ships Zr.Ms. Johan de Witt and Zr.Ms. Snellius are at the scene with a total of 550 Dutch soldiers from the navy, armed forces, air force and Koninklijke Marechaussee, a policing force that works as part of the Dutch military. The Dutch soldiers will provide aid on the island of Abaco.

The ships brought drinking water, food and medicines to the Bahamas, as well as vehicles to transport the emergency supplies and building materials for repairs. There are also specialists who can help with repairing damaged infrastructure.

"At the request of aid organizations there, we are going to place tents for storage and shelter", Van de Sande said to the newspaper. "We will also provide staff support in the hospital." According to the commander, there is also great need for transport. "We have 40 to 50 vehicles on board, which we will bring ashore as soon as possible to meet the demand for transport." A major setback is the current bad weather conditions. "There's rain, thunder and a strong wind. That does not make it easier to bring material ashore."