Dutch assisting in Dorian-hit Bahamas search and rescue missions

Damage on the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian
Damage on the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian . (Photo: Defensie)

Military personnel from the Koninklijke Marechaussee joined local Bahamanian authorities in search and rescue missions this week, the Dutch Defense Ministry said on Wednesday. Hundreds of people were still reported missing in the Bahamas weeks after Hurricane Dorian first made landfall there at Category 5 strength on Sept. 1.

“A lot of work has to be done to get this island going again,” said Wiebo, a 40-year-old Sergeant Major in the Marechaussee.

“But the local authorities have the situation under control,” said Jordi, a Corporal 1st Class. “That means that you can skip the stage of creating order and proceed directly to the reconstruction. ”

The small team of four Marechaussee personnel is part of a contingent of 550 Dutch members of the military, which also includes groups from the navy, air force, and armed forces. The aid work is focused on the island of Abaco.

In addition to the relief effort, the Marechaussee is primarily serving to assist with military policing duties, the military branch’s specialty. “There is no detention center here at the moment, so I helped transport [two] detainees to the airport. They were taken to Nassau by police plane,” Weibo said.

The focus on the island is now shifting from emergency aid to reconstruction, which means the Dutch aid is no longer needed and will withdraw as they complete their duties, the Ministry of Defense said on Friday. 

"We have done and achieved a great deal", Major of the marines Dennis Borst said. In the past days, Dutch soldiers helped build a bridge that connects the north with the south of the island, clean up the harbor, clear roads, and restore electricity and running water to the island's hospital. "The people are starting to rebuild. Our emergency assistance is really no longer needed, so we can go."

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