Nassau, Bahamas

13 September 2019

Secretary-General’s remarks at press encounter outside shelter for Hurricane Dorian evacuees

Question: Secretary-General, you just saw the evacuees at a shelter, most of them emigrated from Haiti. What do you make of this situation? Have you had any talks with the Prime Minister about it and what might be done to help these people when they seem to be not accepted in this country?
Secretary-General: Well, first of all, it's important to say I just visited a reception centre in which the overwhelming majority of the population is not Bahamian it’s Haitian, but they are being supported by the Bahamian government and the Bahamian society. Obviously, when we have a situation like this, migrants are always a very vulnerable part. But I've seen the government is conscious of this problem, and with a very humanistic approach in relation to finding solutions for this population, that already lived in very precarious situations, as we all know.
This is the importance of the support that international community in order to help the Bahamas cope not only with the impact of the storm, but also with need to be able to assist populations that are very vulnerable of foreigners living in the country, many of them undocumented as you know.
Question: Secretary-General, you've led efforts to try and combat climate change through the United Nations. You were in Dominica two years ago, you're here now, things aren't getting any better.

Secretary-General: No, things are getting worse. And this is the reason why we need to have more ambition. It is totally unacceptable that we go on subsidizing fossil fuels. It's totally unacceptable that such a large number of coal plants are being built in the world. It's totally unacceptable that we don't make an effort to put a price on carbon. If we don't reverse the situation we’ll see tragedies like this one multiplying and becoming more and more intense, more frequent. We’ll see drought in Africa contributing to conflict and to the spread of terrorism. You'll see populations, the most vulnerable populations in the world suffering terribly. So this is the moment to reverse the present trends. Climate change is running faster than what we are. We need to reverse this trend. We need to defeat climate change.
Question: So you came as a sign of solidarity Mr. Secretary General. What else can the United Nations bring to these people here?
Secretary-General: I think it's very important first of all, to recognize the very efficient response of the Bahamian Government and the Bahamian society and the support of international community that needs to be intensified because there is a lot of immediate aid that's necessary and there is reconstruction that will require also that solidarity. And at the same time, we all need to do everything we can to reduce the risks that have had such a tragic impact in the Bahamas and that means to fight climate change effectively.