Hur­ri­cane-hit Caribbean sees UK aid flood in

Restora­tion: Help in­cludes mil­i­tary per­son­nel, po­lice of­fi­cers and aid work­ers

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - NEWS - An­drew wood­cock

More than 60 tonnes of UK aid has now reached the Caribbean to sup­port the vic­tims of Hur­ri­cane Irma.

The Bri­tish as­sis­tance ef­fort in­volves more than 1,000 mil­i­tary per­son­nel, 50 po­lice of­fi­cers and 30 aid work­ers.

A fur­ther 60 tonnes of sup­plies are en route to the Bri­tish over­seas ter­ri­to­ries in the Caribbean on board HMS Ocean, which – along with other es­sen­tial items – is car­ry­ing 5,000 hy­giene kits, 500,000 wa­ter pu­rifi­ca­tion tablets and 10,000 buck­ets.

The lat­est up­date from the De­part­ment for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment came as an in­ter­na­tional body sig­nalled it would re­sist UK pres­sure to change its rules so that the as­sis­tance can be classed as part of the aid bud­get.

Down­ing Street has made clear that Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May is “frus­trated” with rules set by the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co-op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment (OECD) which mean over­seas de­vel­op­ment aid cash can­not be al­lo­cated to rel­a­tively high-in­come coun­tries like An­tigua, An­guilla, Turks and Caicos and the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands.

In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Sec­re­tary Priti Pa­tel has writ­ten to the OECD’s De­vel­op­ment As­sis­tance Com­mit­tee (DAC) call­ing for re­forms to re­flect the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of is­land states which stand in the path of trop­i­cal storms like Irma.

The DAC has said it is “open to dis­cussing is­sues of con­cern with its mem­ber coun­tries” and “it is im­por­tant to stay rel­e­vant in a world with chang­ing re­al­i­ties”.

Chair­woman Char­lotte Petri Gor­nitzka told the BBC: “We are not keen over­all to re­open rules that very of­ten.”

As­sis­tance pro­vided in the past few days by the UK in­cludes:

Restora­tion of elec­tric­ity to the main power sta­tion on the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands with the help of UK troops and DfID lo­gis­ti­cians;

De­ploy­ment of six med­i­cal health ex­perts to An­tigua to as­sess the health­care ca­pac­ity and the po­ten­tial for dis­ease out­breaks;

Air de­liv­ery of more than 150 shel­ter kits and 720 litres of wa­ter to the Turks and Caicos Is­lands;

Flights de­liv­er­ing nearly five tonnes of food and wa­ter to An­guilla and three tonnes to the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands.

Ms Pa­tel said: “The Gov­ern­ment has been work­ing non-stop to get vi­tal as­sis­tance to the vic­tims of Hur­ri­cane Irma in the last week.

“Aid con­tin­ues to ar­rive on the af­fected is­lands on a daily ba­sis, and we’ll con­tinue to do all that is needed to get peo­ple back on their feet.”

The UK Gov­ern­ment has an­nounced £57 mil­lion in sup­port for the im­me­di­ate re­cov­ery ef­fort.

Pic­ture: PA.

Ma­jor Tom Quinn of 40 Com­mando and UK Po­lice lead Supt Sharon Bush, sec­ond right, as Bri­tish Royal Marines and po­lice as­sist in an op­er­a­tion to se­cure the in­mates of Bal­sam Ghut prison, in Tor­tola.

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