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Dr Warren Smith

US800M available from CDB for hurricane recovery

– following Bank’s strong 2017 performance

By Staff Writer February 9, 2018

Dr Warren Smith

President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr Warren Smith,  on Wednesday announced that the institution is making US$700 to 800 million available to help Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) recover from the impact of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

The funding, which the Bank will provide over the next five years, complements its ongoing work to build resilience in the Caribbean Region, according to a media release from CDB.

“Disaster risk management and resilience building took centre-stage again in CDB’s strategic responses to the challenges facing our BMCs,” Smith said in the CDB statement, while outlining the Bank’s 2017 performance during his Annual News Conference.

“To incentivise BMCs to invest in climate-resilient infrastructure, CDB must be able to also offer grants and other attractively priced financial resources.  But the challenges our Region faces are bigger than what CDB can handle on its own.  We have, therefore, been drawing on a combination of our own resources as well as funds intermediated through CDB by other development partners to meet this challenge,” the CDB president was quoted as saying in the bank’s press release.

In 2017, the CDB mobilised concessionary resources from development partners to support more resilient infrastructure projects throughout the Region, according to the CDB media release. Among the resources tapped was the Second Climate Action Line of Credit from the European Investment Bank totalling US$144 million, including US$24 million for emergency post-disaster rehabilitation. Last year, the Bank also announced a new US$70 million fund, through which the Government of Mexico will provide grants to boost regional infrastructure in the Bank’s BMCs.

In 2018, the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund, a 300 million pounds sterling programme launched two years ago, will be expanded to include an additional 28 million pounds sterling to assist in the recovery efforts in Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica, the President announced in the statement.

“The Caribbean has had a long history of bouncing back from natural disasters and other external shocks.  So, in the events of 2017, we see immense opportunity for the BMCs to come back stronger and more resilient,” said Smith in the release, while noting that the Caribbean is the second-most vulnerable region to climate change in the world.

In highlighting the Bank’s improved performance in 2017, Smith said that CDB recorded strong growth in both approvals and disbursements according to the press release. It approved capital loans and technical assistance interventions totalling US$364 million, up 18 percent over 2016. In addition, in 2017, the Bank disbursed US$233 million – an increase of 13 percent, compared with the previous year.  This was achieved against the backdrop of increasing intensity and frequency of natural disasters, and greater vulnerability of its BMCs.

The Bank achieved a rating upgrade to AA+ from Standard & Poor’s, and an AA+ capital market rating from Fitch Ratings in 2017, and now has a unified rating across the three major rating agencies, including Moody’s Investors Service  (Aa1), the media statement said.

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Barbuda hur

Opposition parties criticise PM over remarks made in Barbuda

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Jan 29, CMC – Two opposition political parties have criticised what they have labelled to be the behaviour last weekend of Prime Minister Gaston Browne in which he is alleged to have made statements highly critical of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) officials and accusing the organisation of “opportunism”.

Barbuda hur
Hurricane damage in Barbuda (CMC Photo)

Both the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) and the minority National Alliance (DNA) said they wanted to apologise to the international agency over the remarks made by Browne.

UPP leader Harold Lovell, speaking on a radio programme here, said that an external agency erecting or displaying signage after contributing to a project in a foreign country is not unheard of but rather, it is “standard procedure.”

“I’m making assumptions here but they have to account to their principles. Their principles as well as the Chinese government at some point would want to do some sort of inspection. They would want to see where their money has been spent.”

Browne is reported to have told the UNDP officials in Barbuda over the last weekend “you can’t come and take credit for all the work that my Government did.

“It’s unacceptable. When we do all the work and then you come and put big signs on there as though you did everything that is what is happening. You got to stop it. You can’t come and give few sheets of plywood and then go and take all the credit. You have to stop it,” Browne said as he also criticised the UNDP that has had a presence on Barbuda since the island was hit by the Category 5 Hurricane Irma last September.

Browne told the UNDP officials to remove stickers, which displayed two logos, – one for the UNDP and one for the Government of China – from on a number of homes.

Official said that the stickers, were placed to indicate that the roof of the house was repaired with material from the UNDP procurement project funded by the People’s Republic of China.

“So you cannot now offer a few sheets of plywood and then put a UNDP sticker on the building to suggest that it was done by the UNDP. That is opportunism. And I have directed that every single sticker on this building be taken down. I’m not trying to be controversial. But we do not want a situation whereby the domestic population gets the impression that the government is not making any contribution and that everything is coming from abroad,” he said.

“And by the way, the UNDP is our employee. We employ them to do this. They’re not doing it for free. The people who we are to be grateful to are the donors – the Indian Government, the Chinese Government,” Browne added.

But Lovell told radio listeners that Browne’s behaviour on Friday was “pompous and obnoxious” and questioned whether the intent was to “publicly humiliate everyone.

“Even if [the prime minister] thought he had a point, it’s not the way you deal with it. Call a meeting or pull people aside and you could make your point just as strongly.”

The DNA said the party wanted to “apologise on behalf of the citizens of Antigua and Barbuda for the display by our Prime Minister to the international donor agencies that are here to help us”.

CMC/ad/ir/2018

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Maria-Irma

Caribbean American publication names hurricanes ‘Person of the Year’

NEW YORK,  CMC – A prominent Caribbean American publication here has named Hurricanes Irma and Maria, described as “the two mega, Category 5 hurricanes of 2017,” as its “Person of the Year.”

The Brooklyn-based EVERYBODY’S Magazine, owned and published by Grenadian Herman Hall, said it is the first time the 40-year old publication “selected a phenomenon as its Person of the Year.”

Maria-Irma“It can be said that the numerous and ferocious hurricanes of 2017, Usain Bolt failing to win his final track and field races, and Trinidad and Tobago knocking out the US from entering FIFA World Cup in 2018 were the major 2017 headlines in the Caribbean and within Caribbean communities overseas,” Hall said.

“Maria and Irma may well have affirmed Atilla the Hun’s classic calypso recorded in New York City in 1935, ‘Woman Is Not The Weaker Sex’ and Denise Plumber’s 1988 calypso ‘Woman is Boss’.,” he added. “Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma showed their male counterparts, Hurricanes Harvey, Lee, Jose and Bret, who is really the boss and the stronger sex.

“The handwriting is on the wall, in that Caribbean governments can no longer expect the US to eagerly and generously help them in time of natural disasters,” Hall continued.

In September, Hurricanes Irma and Maria ripped through the northern Caribbean, leaving a trail of destruction and ravaging 12 of 32 countries, according to reports.

Most of the islands affected included Barbuda, Dominica, Puerto Rico, St Kitts and Nevis, the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

Hall said previous EVERYBODY’S Magazine “Person of the Year” included St. Lucian Nobel Laureate Sir Arthur Lewis; the late Caribbean American Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, of Barbadian and Guyanese parentage; former Prime Ministers Patrick Manning, of Trinidad and Tobago, Dame Eugenia Charles, of Dominica, Tom Adams, of Barbados, and Baldwin Spencer, of Antigua and Barbuda.

Others were: The Mighty Sparrow, Jamaican-born Olympian and WNBA player Tina Charles; Grenadian Olympian Kirani James; and former West Indies cricket captain Guyanese Clive Lloyd.

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BDF

Regional Security System ends humanitarian mission to Dominica

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Dec 29, CMC – The Barbados-based Regional Security System (RSS) Friday ended its humanitarian mission to Dominica, just over three months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

The category five hurricane swept over the island on September 18, killing at least 29 people leaving behind billions of dollars in damage to infrastructure, destroying an estimated 90 per cent of the housing stock and downing power lines.

BDF
BDF Chief of Staff Col. Glyne Grannum welcomes
returning RSS troops (CMC Photo)

Troops from the RSS, including the Barbados Defence Force (BDF), had been on island since September 20, providing relief supplies and rendering assistance in law enforcement, among other areas.

They returned here on board the Barbados Coast Guard vessel, HMBS Leonard C Banfield, which made the initial voyage, and were greeted by Barbados Defence Force (BDF) Chief of Staff Colonel Glyne Grannum.

“Your contribution has been significant, valued and highly appreciated especially given your last effort, the last chapter, in which you lot would have sacrificed Christmas and a significant portion of the holiday season with your families, your loved ones, in order to render service and to do what was required to help Dominica back on its feet,” Grannum told the troops.

He added that rehabilitation efforts are ongoing, even though the RSS members have returned home.

“The main lesson learned at this stage from the last rotation is that we have to endure into the future, and we have to continue to help Dominica.  The troops may be back home safely with their families, deservedly with their loved ones, but we need to continue to help Dominica in the months, and I suspect, in the years ahead.”

Grannum visited the troops in Dominica on Christmas Day, as part of the annual visit to the island’s military bases. He told reporters that the assistance of regional troops was critical to the recovery efforts, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

“Because with the best will in the world, the Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force they were stretched.  They were working long hours, and they themselves suffered losses at home where they needed the augmentation for specific periods to help them rehabilitate.

“And in that regard, though not on this rotation, I must point out the contribution of the Royal Barbados Police Force and indeed our own Barbados Fire Service, those were significant contributions to helping Dominica get to where it is today, the 29th of December, and indeed going forward, a signal as to how we can continue to help the process and to help the country,” he said.

“We (BDF) remain one of the leading member states of the Regional Security System and in that responsibility is the Barbados Defence Force to maintain a level of commitment to the security alliance.  And that would mean if they require assistance in terms of operations, relief, reinforcement to their police force or their disaster response mechanism, that we would be willing to step up and to redeploy persons to help in particular cases.

“Of course we are also backed, and are reinforced by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA)  mechanism, to be able to assist with disaster mitigation planning.”

Grannum said such planning is all the more critical, given that the next hurricane season begins in the six months.

“So going forward we are determined to continue to assist Dominica as is required with specific items and to include wider readiness within the RSS and within the CDEMA mechanisms for our regional effort.

“And we ourselves in Barbados, we need to be ready.  There’s nothing that says we can’t be affected to the scale or worse than Dominica, so we need to take a particular consciousness, awareness and readiness to getting ready for severe weather systems like hurricanes,” he said.

According to Grannum, this state of readiness should not be confined to the military, but should also involve the wider society.

“Being ready is really a change in behaviour. It is a complex scale of activities involving not just us in the military, but communities, what they can do to develop plans for looking after vulnerable persons, it involves … taking care of the environment, it involves supporting those who go into harm’s way,” he said.

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log-iso-telesur.png_253617125

Caribbean Seeks ‘Silver Christmas Lining’ Post-Hurricanes

 
 
Telesur
 
Published 25 December 2017
“It is a rough road, but a road with a lot of heart,” said journalist Alita Singh, from Saint Martin, which was severely battered by hurricanes Irma and Maria earlier this year.

Despite many people in the Caribbean still struggling to rebuild their homes in the wake of devastating recent hurricanes, the Chistmas spirit lives on with communities coming together to celebrate “every development” since September’s storms.

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“Normally by now, you would see businesses giving out turkeys and ham… not this year,” said Gavin Richards, a Dominican broadcaster.

“The shopping trips are definitely down because the money isn’t there… This would have been the peak,” said fellow broadcast journalist Keithstone Greaves, from Anguilla.

“Some folks are trying to get the Christmas feel, but everything is low-key because people are really trying hard to get their lives together.”

After hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated several Caribbean nations, thousands of people were left homeless and unemployed. With finances stretched over reconstruction plans and purchasing bare necessities, traditional Christmas customs have largely had to be abandoned.

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But despite the lack of expansive Christmas dinners and desserts, local businesses are everything they can to bring the holiday spirit to struggling communities, says journalist Alita Singh, insisting that people are instead finding joy in the little things this year.

Brightly lit streets, reliable water sources, food on the shelves: these are just a few of the things the Caribbean is being thankful for this Christmas.

“These days, every development is being celebrated,” said Singh, noting that despite the economic deficit, Christmas trees are experiencing a startling resurrection on Saint Martin, which was hit by Hurricane Irma in early September.

“It is a rough road, but a road with a lot of heart.”

Greaves also hopes for a full recovery, suggesting that the spirit and strength of the Caribbean will help keep the region afloat as it navigates its way through this difficult time.

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Brothers sit on a sofa outside their home, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma in Grand Turks, Turks and Caicos Islands.

UNICEF says thousands of children need assistance three months after Caribbean hurricanes

UNITED NATIONS, CMC – Three months after two category-5 hurricanes tore through the Caribbean, thousands of children across the region still need support, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)  said on Wednesday.

Brothers sit on a sofa outside their home, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma in Grand Turks, Turks and Caicos Islands.
Brothers sit on a sofa outside their home, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma in Grand Turks, Turks and Caicos Islands.

“Even before the hurricanes hit, UNICEF was on the ground, working with Governments and local partners to prepare communities and preposition humanitarian supplies for the areas at highest risk,” said Maria Cristina Perceval, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“These included life-saving supplies that were most needed during the immediate response when access to clean water, shelter and basic social services were scarce,” she added.

The UN said Irma, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, caused extensive damage to the islands of the Eastern Caribbean, Haiti and Cuba.

Hurricane Maria then wrought additional damage across the region, with UNICEF estimating that, together, they left 350,000 children in need of humanitarian assistance, the UN said.

“Three months on, UNICEF is still on the ground in these countries and territories, working on programs to support children and families in rebuilding their lives and returning to a sense of normalcy,” Perceval said.

However, she said challenges remain, with many of the most vulnerable families still feeling the effects of the storms.

Perceval said over 35 percent of Dominica’s children – particularly those in shelters – are still not enrolled in education activities; while, in Antigua and Barbuda, many families remain in shelters, unable to return to Irma-wrecked Barbuda.

Working in collaboration with governments and non-governmental organizations, UNICEF said it has been providing immediate humanitarian relief and working to ensure longer term recovery and resilience.

“While life is returning to normal for many, children and families who have lived through these storms will need committed, sustained support to get their homes, communities and lives back on track,” Perceval said.

UNICEF said it is collaborating with its partners in supporting communities through programmes focused on recovery and resilience in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Dominica and Haiti.

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Wesley Gibbings - ACM President

Distribution of Hurricane assistance to Caribbean Journalists begins

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Journalists and other media workers from Dominica will be among the first regional recipients of assistance from the Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers (ACM) as part of a project to replace journalistic tools lost or destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria earlier this year.

Wesley Gibbings - ACM President
Wesley Gibbings – ACM President

Journalists and other media workers from Anguilla, Barbuda, Dominica and Tortola, will be receiving laptops, mobile phones, digital recorders and other equipment.

The ACM’s General Secretary, Anika Kentish from Antigua and Barbuda, will present the equipment to colleagues in Dominica on Saturday.

Media workers from the other islands will receive their equipment over the coming week through a number of other designated ACM focal points.

For this effort, the ACM received financial assistance from Free Press Unlimited – a global media development foundation based in the Netherlands, and laptops from the North American Office of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Gannett Company of the United States.

This project was managed by Julian Rogers and ACM President Wesley Gibbings with assistance from representatives in the affected islands.

“We recognise that this is a limited response and that not all needs of the kind we have sought to meet have been covered,” Gibbings said. “But this is our best shot in relatively uncharted territory for our organisation.”

“I also want to pay tribute to the work of Julian Rogers for keeping on top of things and ensuring that this assistance reaches journalists who suffered serious losses as a result of the hurricanes,” he added.

The ACM had initiated a journalistic series in collaboration with the Caribbean Broadcasting Union/Caribbean Media Corporation (CBU/CMC) immediately following the hurricanes highlighting the work of journalists and other media workers in the affected countries.

It is working on convening a symposium early in the New Year to consider the development of a protocol to guide the work of journalists before, during and after such events.

This is to be done in collaboration with major stakeholders such as the CBU and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

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curfew

Dominica lifts curfew on capital

ROSEAU, Dominica, Dec 9, CMC- Dominica has lifted a curfew in the capital that had been imposed since Hurricane Maria tore through the Caribbean island on September 18 killing at least 28 people and leaving damage estimated at millions of dollars.

A brief statement from the Ministry of National Security noted that the curfew had been lifted with immediate effect and followed on the advice of the Police Commissioner.

curfew“The City of Roseau is returning to a state of normalcy with electricity being restored in a number of area and therefore, there is a need to create an environment that encourages economic activity bearing in mind that we are in the Christmas season,” the release stated.

In October, Dominica announced a lifting of the mandatory curfew in some areas, but kept the measure in place in the capital.

It said then that the decision to lift the 6.00 am to 6.00 pm (local time) curfew in some areas was taken after a national security assessment was conducted by the Chief of Police.

“The main reasons for lifting the curfew in the town of Portsmouth and other communities across Dominica are to allow for economic activities to be undertaken, such as fishing, farming and retailing of goods and also to facilitate those students who will be returning to school,” the statement noted.

In the aftermath of the Category 5 storm hitting the island, the authorities imposed a 4.00 pm to 8.00 am curfew in a bid to deal with the looting of several businesses, but relaxed the measure several days ago.

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UN Secretary general

FUND-UN chief seeks billion dollar emergency response fund

 
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 9, CMC – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called for countries to support a billion US dollar fund that will support critical relief operations in crises around the world, such as devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean.

Guterres said the funds are necessary as humanitarian needs have increased from US$5.2 billion in 2005 to over US$24 billion today.

UN Secretary general
Secretary-General António Guterres

“Over the past 12 years, CERF (Central Emergency Response Fund) has been at the forefront of humanitarian response,” said the UN Secretary-General as he thanked the 126 member-states and observers, and the other donors who have generously contributed to the fund since its creation in 2005.

“CERF is without question one of our most important tools to reach people quickly and save lives,” he added.

This year, the UN said CERF, managed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), has funded life-saving work, allocating nearly US$130 million to help prevent famine in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

The fund also supported relief responses in other places, including for Palestine refugees in Gaza, for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, and those affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean, the UN said.

Guterres on Friday announced a CERF allocation of US$100 million to meet critical needs in nine underfunded emergencies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, Cameroon, Mali, Philippines, Eritrea, Haiti and Pakistan.

The UN said “protracted conflict and the impact of natural disasters, compounded by structural fragility and chronic vulnerability, mean that more people than ever before survive on the brink of disaster.”

In 2018, the UN said protracted crises are likely to continue “while the impact of climate change is likely to grow and intensify.”

“There is no sign of a let-up in humanitarian needs,” said Guterres, noting that this is why the General Assembly adopted a resolution a year ago that calls for an expansion of CERF’s annual funding target from US$450 million to US$1 billion.

“US$1 billion is an ambitious but achievable goal. A strong United Nations needs a strong CERF,” Guterres said.

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Has Montserrat put its house in order?

Has Montserrat put its house in order?

 

The JMC (Joint Ministerial Council) meetings have been taking place for over 10 years now. It may have been before, but we became aware when Chief Minister Dr. Lowel Lewis returned from one of them and we received a communique on the meeting. It was then we noticed that the Chief Ministers or the British Overseas Territories (BOTs) were required to sign an agreement that the government would not interfere in judicial matters.

December 8, 2017

At the time we questioned the Chief Minister whether he had signed the agreement, as Montserrat government officials as a rule were not known to interfere in such matters. But we later recalled that many years before that a minister reportedly showed up at Police Headquarters in Plymouth and demanded the release of his son in dramatic fashion. The question that never got answered is whether a BOT had to sign whether or not the situation was relevant to it. There has been fall out since.

Now, in more recent years special attention had been given to the Communique that comes out. What is difficult to recall ‘off the cuff’, is what specific positions had been raised or communicated within the last ten years on the poor response Montserrat had experienced in the aftermath of the volcanic demolition that still makes commentators and critics claim Montserrat to be a beggar going with open hands to HMG.

The Premier at this last JMC a couple weeks ago led the charge in highlighting the Territories that had been so badly shaken/broken by hurricanes Irma and Maria three months ago and reminding or pointing out that over 20 years and Montserrat has little to show as to a recovery, back to anything near sustainable economic develepment to take it into the foreseeable future.

A report on his involvement during the visit referred: “The three affected territories the Turks and Caicos Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla were each represented by their respective political leaders and benefited from their governors also being present during much of the event.”

At the beginning of the annual event for which the BOTs had been well prepared, British Prime Minister Theresa May held a preliminary meeting with the BOT leaders at Number 10 Downing Street in which she set out her government’s desire to cement the enduring partnership that existed between the U.K. and the Overseas Territories and the U. K’s ambition to support their diverse economies and natural heritage.

We’ve seen some of his presentations, but have been left somewhat feeling that the Montserrat case has not been adequately taken care of, while more attention and focus was on the other territories. At the time, that may have been the prudent thing to do, but also important, we feel that an opportunity was missed to incisively highlight the predicament Montserrat faces, at this point that Montserrat must lead the discussion to remind HMG of its international and other obligations to those who especially must rely on AID to build itself. That last might have brought stronger arguments on the pitfalls to be avoided.

We expect and hope to see communication that upon his return the Premier would have immediately followed up with direct communication to the Prime Minister and other relevant Ministers regarding the current situation about HMG keeping their obligation and responsibility to Montserrat’s recovery firstly and serious moves to develop the island economically, socially and intellectually.

After the niceties and importantly, an acknowledgement of Montserrat’s own shortcomings, mild and gross; then moving straight into the disgust, calling for investigations, we think critical and necessary to correct immediately the insulting behavior after promises and commitments to bring Montserrat, originally planned for by 2020 to self-sustainability, at least. Those shortcomings were what was referred to when ‘the’ government delegation was told, ‘go put your house in order.’ Do we understand even now?

Montserrat also has obligation, especially as all our leaders love to refer to ‘partnership’. That as we have noted time and again, makes no sense to be constantly speaking all about what has not been done, when investigations will at least show that is not the whole truth. That will put you back Mr. Premier, right at the beginning, which is probably where you are now, ignoring the right moves, now or in the immediate. Let us hope that this is not too late. Even so time to get on with it.

 

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