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High-level Conference to mobilize resources for hurricane-ravaged CARICOM States coming in November

PRESS RELEASE – (CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will hold a High-level Donor Conference on  21 November at UN Headquarters in New York to mobilise international resources for its Members devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

This initiative is aimed at rebuilding the devastated Members as the first climate resilient countries in the world and helping the wider CARICOM Region improve its resilience.  International Development Partners, friendly countries, NGOs, prominent personalities, private sector entities and Foundations have been invited.  CARICOM Heads of Government and the Secretaries-General of CARICOM and the United Nations will also participate.

The powerful category 5 hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the Region in September causing a number of deaths and widespread devastation in CARICOM Member States and Associate Members.  Irma, with wind gusts of over 230 mph, damaged or destroyed more than 90 percent of the buildings on Barbuda – the sister island of Antigua – leading to the complete evacuation of the island; and between 60 and 90 percent in Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the southern family islands in The Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Haiti and St. Kitts and Nevis were also affected.  Maria passed two weeks later, hitting Dominica with such fury, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit was prompted to declare that “Dominica is pure devastation”.

CARICOM, through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) has been at the forefront of the immediate relief effort. Member States, private sector companies and public spirited individuals have contributed significant quantities of relief supplies. Several countries have also contributed security personnel, health professionals and utility repair experts, among others. CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell of Grenada and Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque led assessment teams to badly affect islands.

Given the level of devastation and in anticipation that the frequency and intensity will become the new normal, the Region has recognised the need to build back better for improved resilience.

November’s Donor Conference also comes against the backdrop that the impacted countries are Caribbean Small Island and Low-lying Coastal Developing States (SIDS) with inherent vulnerabilities.  Most have also  been made ineligible for concessional financing from major donors which have categorised them as middle to high income countries.

Credit: CARICOM Secretariat - Press Release Announcing Conference

CARICOM-UN Will Raise Funds to Help Rebuild Hurricane-Hit Caribbean Nations

Limited resources and lack of funding, many hurricane-torn regions in the Caribbean are finding it hard to recoup

With limited resources and lack of funding, many hurricane-torn regions in the Caribbean are finding it hard to recoup.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) along with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will host a conference to assist the hurricane-torn Caribbean nations to help them become more “resilient” in future climate-related calamities.

The conference to be held in New York on Nov. 22 will raise funds to provide “technical and financial assistance to meet that goal,” Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community, CARICOM, said during a press conference.

With limited resources and lack of funding, many hurricane-torn regions in the Caribbean are finding it hard to recoup.

“The currents of successive category 5 hurricanes signals a dangerous change in the intensity and frequency of climate change-related storms, heralds the advent of the new normal,” LaRocque said.

“All these disasters” offer an opportunity for the affected countries to “become the first climate change resilient countries in the world,” the CARICOM general secretary added.

Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, also urged for concessionary funding needed for the hurricane-hit regions. Using “artificial impediments” such as “per capita income” are “an act of aggression against small island developing states,” Browne said.

Browne called out the hypocrisy of naming Caribbean countries as “wealthy” when a vast majority of the countries in the region are “the poorest in the world, maybe second only to Africa,” he said.

Further adding, in order to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change, the countries responsible for climate change should pay the price.

“The money should come from the heavy polluters, those who are contributing to the warming of the planet,” and those who continue to use fossil fuels, he further added.

A Caribbean peace conference held in Barbados, during the first week of October also discussed the perils of climate change and how developing nations are paying a heavy price for the capitalistic ventures of nearby developed nations which “increases the risk of natural disasters that can wipe out Caribbean economies by wreaking havoc on infrastructure and by causing significant loss of life.”

Attended by the representatives of Barbados, Cuba, Guyana, Jamaica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela and the U.S. Peace Council, the conference members noted that how they are being subjected ” to private sector dominance and the reversal of the social gains in health, education, public housing and transportation, adversely impacting the quality of life of the Caribbean working people.”

Credit: Carib Flame
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