CARICOM heads of govern­ment meet on hur­ri­cane sit­u­a­tion

Weekend Mirror - - EDITORIAL -

Heads

of govern­ment of the Caribbean Com­mu­nity (CARICOM) met in spe­cial emer­gency ses­sion on Saturday to re­ceive an up­date on the ef­fects of the im­pact of Hur­ri­canes Irma and Jose on the re­gion and progress on the co-or­di­nated re­sponse to pro­vide re­lief for those af­fected.

The meet­ing, presided over by CARICOM chair­man, Dr Keith Mitchell, prime min­is­ter of Gre­nada, re­ceived a full brief­ing on the sit­u­a­tion from rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the af­fected coun­tries, the Caribbean Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment Agency (CDEMA), the Com­mu­nity’s lead agency for dis­as­ter re­sponse, CARICOM sec­re­tary-gen­eral, Ir­win LaRocque, and re­gional in­sti­tu­tions.

Premier of the Bri­tish Vir­gin Islands Dr Or­lando Smith, the prime min­is­ter of The Ba­hamas Dr Hu­bert Min­nis, the for­eign min­is­ter of Haiti, An­to­nio Ro­drigues and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Turks and Caicos govern­ment pro­vided the lat­est in­for­ma­tion on their coun­tries. Prime min­is­ter of Do­minica, Roo­sevelt Sk­er­ritt pro­vided in­for­ma­tion on the sit­u­a­tion on the is­land of St Maarten where a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of CARICOM na­tion­als are cur­rently lo­cated and prime min­is­ter of Saint Lu­cia, Allen Chas­tanet alerted the meet­ing to the sit­u­a­tion in St Kitts and Ne­vis.

The ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of CDEMA, Ron­ald Jack­son, ad­dressed the sit­u­a­tion in An­tigua and Bar­buda and An­guilla as well as giv­ing an up­date on the Com­mu­nity’s co-or­di­nated re­sponse to all the coun­tries af­fected. Im­me­di­ate needs were iden­ti­fied for those worst af­fected, par­tic­u­larly, Bar­buda, BVI and An­guilla. These in­cluded wa­ter, food items, ma­te­ri­als to aid in pro­vid­ing tem­po­rary shel­ter such as ply­wood and tar­pau­lins and es­pe­cially cash to pur­chase items to help with the cost of im­me­di­ate re­cov­ery ef­forts in the af­fected coun­tries. An evac­u­a­tion of Bar­buda was well ad­vanced due to the po­ten­tial im­pact of Hur­ri­cane Jose.

Ear­lier this week, CDEMA ac­ti­vated the Re­gional Re­sponse Mech­a­nism (RRM) which co-or­di­nates re­lief ac­tion and in­cludes re­gional in­sti­tu­tions, in­ter- na­tional agen­cies, and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the United King­dom, the United States and Canada. CDEMA’s ad­vance team has been wait­ing in An­tigua to go in to the af­fected coun­tries in that area as soon as con­di­tions per­mit, given the prox­im­ity of Hur­ri­cane Jose and the se­vere dam­age to ports of en­try.

The hur­ri­cane caused mas­sive dam­age to prop­erty and in­fra­struc­ture in­clud­ing sea and air ports which has hin­dered ac­cess to the islands, there­fore af­fect­ing the ar­rival of as­sess­ment teams and the re­lief ef­forts. Lim­ited ac­cess has been es­tab­lished to An­guilla and BVI with the aid of the United King­dom. A team is also in Ja­maica wait­ing to pro­ceed to the Turks and Caicos Islands, The Ba­hamas and Haiti.

They ex­pressed their sym­pa­thy to the be­reaved of those killed by Hur­ri­cane Irma. So far four deaths have been con­firmed in the BVI, one in Bar­buda, one in An­guilla and one in Haiti due to Hur­ri­cane Irma, which also caused fa­tal­i­ties on the islands of St Maarten and St Barthelemy.

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