UWI ready to sup­port Belize fol­low­ing Hur­ri­cane Earl

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

A t the peak of the hur­ri­cane sea­son, The Univer­sity of the West Indies (UWI) said it re­mains watch­ful and poised to lend sup­port to its Caribbean neigh­bours. Out­reach has be­gun for the re­cov­ery ef­forts in Belize af­ter it was hard hit by Hur­ri­cane Earl.

The storm, which made land­fall south of Belize City just af­ter be­ing up­graded to a Cat­e­gory 1 Hur­ri­cane on Thurs­day, Au­gust 4, 2016, re­sulted in ma­jor flood­ing in the cen­tral and coastal ar­eas of Belize. Belize City and sur­round­ing vil­lages were among the most af­fected ar­eas with some ma­jor bridges ren­dered im­pass­able.

In­land ar­eas in­clud­ing the Belize River Val­ley, Cayo District and Stann Creek District suf­fered tremen­dously and will feel the eco­nomic bur­den of lost ba­nana, cit­rus and grain crops even as Belize picks up the pieces.

In a let­ter the same day, UWI vice-chan­cel­lor, Pro­fes­sor Sir Hi­lary Beck­les, as­sured Dean Bar­row, prime min­is­ter of Belize of the sup­port of univer­sity ex­perts in the ar­eas of crit­i­cal need, both in the short and longer term.

Com­ment­ing on the mat­ter, Beck­les said, “In the face of the dev­as­ta­tion brought on by Hur­ri­cane Earl, I was re­lieved to see the ef­fi­ciency of the emer­gency man­age­ment ef­forts and the re­silience of the peo­ple. We know that there are dif­fi­cult days ahead but The UWI com­mits to part­ner­ing with the peo­ple of Belize to shorten the pe­riod of hard­ship and as­sure Belize’s re­turn to growth in the next sev­eral months.”

Dr Luz Longsworth, pro vice-chan­cel­lor and prin­ci­pal of The UWI Open Cam­pus, who has lived and worked in Belize for many years, has been charged with the re­spon­si­bil­ity of en­gag­ing Belize’s lead­er­ship team and work­ing to mar­shal the sig­nif­i­cant skills of UWI ex­perts across the re­gion to­ward the re­cov­ery cause.

The UWI’s out­reach to Belize fol­lows sim­i­lar sup­port ex­tended to The Ba­hamas and Do­minica last year as they also faced the ef­fects of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters. Th­ese ef­forts are in line with the univer­sity’s re­newed com­mit­ment to ac­tivism in re­spect of all the ma­jor chal­lenges fac­ing the re­gion.

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