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Dominica 8

Caribbean disaster experts to discuss ways to assist region during SOTIC conference

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Oct 4, CMC – Leading experts in disaster preparedness and mitigation, recovery, funding, airport development and maintenance among other stakeholders will meet in Grenada net week to discuss ways on how the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) conference in Jamaica in November can assist Caribbean countries battered by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett Wednesday said that the four hour discussions will be held on October 12 as part of the weeklong Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) to be held in St. George’s.

Dominica 8He said it is the hope that the outcome of the meeting could into the special session of the November 27-29 UNWTO conference in Jamaica “and that a document will emerge from SOTIC which will help to inform that session at the Jamaica/UNWTO summit”.

“Recover & Rebuild will focus on the economic cost of the disasters, including the potential impact on gross domestic product, employment, the cost to rebuild and the recovery time. Key recommendations emerging from Recover & Rebuild will form part of the comprehensive document which we believe will have industry-wide international significance,” Bartlett said.

He said he was urging all stakeholders within the tourism industry to attend both the Grenada and Jamaica meetings adding that “these two crucial events will help set the course for recovery and growth for all of us over the next year and shape the future of tourism for the Caribbean region”.

Several Caribbean countries, notably, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, St. Maarten were battered by the hurricanes last month as they made their way through the Lesser Antilles leaving a trail of death and destruction estimated at billions of dollars.

Bartlett said that Jamaica “continues to extend our thoughts and prayers to our Caribbean brothers and sisters” and recognises that the entire Caribbean region will be adversely impacted by the lasting results of two hurricanes.

He said Kingston has recognised the efforts of the Barbados-based CTO, in conjunction with the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) as well as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) in assisting the region and ensuring that timely and accurate information is disseminated.

“We are aware that CTO and CDEMA technical teams have been on the ground in the various islands doing rapid needs assessments and coordinating with the national authorities in managing the various interventions, to mitigate the pain and hardships that are so pervasive at this time.”

He said a meeting held last month in China of the UNWTO and attended by 10 countries from the Caribbean and Latin America agreed on the need “to assist in the Caribbean natural disaster risk management and response initiatives” and to include in the Jamaica conference an opportunity for all interested parties to discuss and implement a plan of action.

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Karolin Toubetzkoy

Regional hoteliers launch “One Caribbean Family” initiative

MIAMI, Oct 3, CMC – The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has launched a booking initiative that allows hotels across the region to help those who have been adversely impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The CHTA said that the initiative will also highlight the fact that more than 70 per cent of Caribbean destinations have not been affected and are ready to welcome visitors as usual.

Karolin Toubetzkoy
Karolin Toubetzkoy

CHTA said that it’s “One Caribbean Family” movement has been developed to help the vital tourism industry get back on its feet and will serve as a hub for hotels, travel advisors and tour operators who would like to make a contribution through guest bookings.

It said donations made through the initiative are sent to the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund managed by Tourism Cares, a non-profit organization which has partnered with CHTA to anchor the tourism industry’s hurricane recovery efforts in the Caribbean.

“We want to show our solidarity with the Caribbean countries affected by these storms, not just in words but with actions that can bring relief to those in need,” said CHTA president, Karolin Troubetzkoy.

She said while she is encouraged by the initial pledges of support for the One Caribbean Family initiative by some of the region’s hotels and international tour operators and travel advisors, she would like to see more Caribbean hotels and trade partners come on board.

“How can any hotel or hotel chain in the region and our trade partners feel good about securing incremental business as a result of hotel closures due to hurricanes?”

“While this may sound idealistic, the need to come together and act as one Caribbean tourism family has never been greater,” she said, applauding the tourism industry partners who have launched fundraising initiatives of their own, but hopes these will not deter them from also participating in the One Caribbean Family initiative.

“To bring aid to the countries and the people who were affected will be an enormous task, and the One Caribbean Family initiative is a unique way to spread the good word that most of the Caribbean is open for business while helping those destinations most in need,” she opined.

Troubetzkoy said her company is pledging to donate up to US$50 for each booking for travel between October 1, 2017 and December 19, 2018.

“We started this pledge for direct reservations and bookings through our travel advisors, but now we are also including some wholesalers who will match our donation,” she said, adding that guests wishing to make additional contributions to the Fund will receive resort credits up to US$250, depending on their contribution.

“When any part of the region is affected, it hits us so close to home, because the entire Caribbean is our home,” she said, adding “this is one tangible way our tourism community can stand in solidarity with our neighbours.”

The Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund allows tourism industry stakeholders and friends of the region throughout the world to pool their resources in support of vulnerable, devastated parts of the Caribbean that welcome millions of visitors in a region that supports 2.4 million tourism-related jobs.

The Fund’s focus on the recovery of islands directly affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria complements existing relief efforts and gives the tourism industry a way to leverage its resources to help the region bounce back, ideally better than before.

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Fibre Optic Cable Shocker

Fibre Optic Cable Shocker

This will be taken forward as a ‘joint venture between UK Government and Montserrat”

When the media gathered at the Governor’s press conference at the Governor’s office today, October 6, 2017, at 8.30 which was scheduled to be a contended time of 45 minute, there were high expectations to hear about the stalled Fibre Optic Cable installation for Montserrat; of which we had strangely heard absolutely nothing, from the exited on-island DFID Representative Martin Dawson. It should have been the ONE thing that he could have claimed as ‘an achievement’ during his three-year tenure in Montserrat.

Today the four-month appointed Deputy Head for the Montserrat department in DFID Mr. Indranil Chakrabarti told the Montserrat press: “I’ve had a number of discussions about fibre optics this week with the relevant stakeholders here on the island. It’s not really for me to say what the next steps are; it’s with the relevant stakeholders here to set those out but. As with the broader reconstruction effort. It will require a joint government, private sector potentially.”

DFID Mr. Indranil Chakrabarti

When pressed, Mr Chackrabarti merely said: “…the UK Government stands ready to facilitate leverage support necessary to meet the reasononable infrastructure needs for Montserrat…”

When pressed further, H E Carriere protected, by declaring, “I think you got the answer that Mr Chakrabarti is able to give you so I think we should move on to another question…”

As we reported  in the August 20, 2017 newspaper, “The Montserrat Reporter has learnt the delay in this already long approved Fibre-Optic reinstallation back in 2013 in Montserrat was seriously affected by someone with knowledge of what strings to pull at a time when the UK high spend share of its budget, Department for International Development was undergoing scrutiny and review, occasioned by its new Minister Priti Patel.

“… Expressions of Interest request was published…it was submitted again this time by DFID for a Response Required By Mon 29 August 2016…”

Premier Romeo has here and abroad, lamented on this among other projects which have been languishing. Very recently Minister of Communications and Works reported that there has been no progress on the project but that it was hoped to be revised soon.

This shocking news is being processed, quietly as of today, by Government as informed by the DFID-MNI Deputy head and there is speculation that outrage is expected to begin to flow early next week.

In May 2013 a Government Information Unit (GIU) informed: “The United Kingdom is making good on its commitment to support Montserrat’s redevelopment and move towards financial independence.

“Department for International Development (DfID) Minister of State, Alan Duncan, and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Mark Simmonds, the UK government has reaffirmed its commitment to finance future capital projects for the island as long as they were clearly justified and sustainable.”

“The ministers reiterated that all investment decisions must be based on the following: that they “(i) are financially and economically viable, both individually and taken as a whole; (ii) contribute to reducing budget dependency; (iii) account fully for the contingent and reputational risks, and (iv) clarify any institutional changes and other arrangements required to make the SGP a success.”

The UK government had said it will proceed with the implementation of other SGP components: Fibre optic cable being one of three components, whereby “– GoM should work on the planning, design and appraisal phase. If a viable economic and financial business case that fully explores private sector participation is made it will be considered for funding.”

That had progressed to approval where in early 2014 Premier Meade reported, “Fiber optics” – Already promisedand that as we later confirmed was approved following a 32 page Business Case Intervention Summary, which among other convincing and accepted statements, said in, “Footnotes to Economic Appraisal (Table 1): Assumed total construction cost of US$7.45 million, £4.84 million (EC$20.68 million), with completion over an 18-month period.  This provides 2 links, Montserrat to St. Kitts and Montserrat to Antigua.  This excludes the costs of the laying of cable ducts along road alignments (included in the proposed AO1 and AO2 road projects).”

During the press conference Governor Carriere prior to the shocking news, reporting on the just past hurricanes, Irma, Jose and particularly Maria mentioned the setbacks including communication shortcomings which would have included the lack of fibre optic cabling.

 But quoting from the Business Case, “Montserrat has remained without international fibre optic connectivity since 1997, and is one of the last Caribbean states or territories without it… The fragility of the existing Montserratian telecommunications network has been identified as the island’s single biggest weakness in the event of regional hurricane activity… The goal of Montserrat’s undersea and terrestrial network development should be to eliminate uncertainty surrounding the country’s ICT development and provide future-proof broadband capacity as a cornerstone of growth and access, coupled with the island’s strategy to open sea and air access and promote macroeconomic growth.  International investors, including retirees, will have the confidence that they will be able to remain on island with full ICT service availability.

This also represents a significant area of market failure and the justification for UK public sector intervention.

It is against the foregoing and more that we present the shocking news.

Please read on line or August 4, 2017 newspaper print copy:

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Jan Henderson

New Zealand pledges aid to help Caribbean countries affected by hurricanes

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Sep. 24, CMC   – The Government of New Zealand will be contributing NZ$250,000 (US$  to the immediate relief efforts to help countries in the region that have been affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Jan Henderson
Jan Henderson – NZ High Commissioner

The funds will be disbursed through the United Nations Development programme (UNDP) to support governments in early recovery activities such as debris management and the rehabilitation of basic services such as water and electricity.

“New Zealand and the Caribbean have longstanding links which have been deepened by the opening four mission in the region in 2014. I have spent time in both Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica, getting to know the countries and the people, and it is heartbreaking to see the damage done by Hurricanes Irma and Maria”, said New Zealand High Commissioner Jan Henderson.

She added that New Zealand remains committed to continuing long term support in the agriculture sector in Antigua and Barbuda, and to the geothermal development project in Dominica when recovery efforts move to economic revitalisation.

The New Zealand High Commission serves Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.

Meanwhile, arrangements are being made to have doctors and nurses from Barbados travel to Dominica to provide much-needed assistance.

According to Dr. Brian Charles, the managing director of Sandy Crest Medical Centre, who is in Dominica, there is urgent need for artisans, medical and nursing personnel to provide much needed care for those requiring assistance.

Charles is in Dominica to provide primary assessments for the health care services and the hospital there, and to work alongside the Barbadian military personnel. “The [Princess Margaret] hospital has been badly damaged…it is about 70 per cent destroyed, but it is running somewhat,” Charles said.

He noted that the hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department had very limited function, as the institution had no power, water, operating theatre, X-ray or CAT scan departments, laboratories or blood bank.

“Our appeal right now is for assistance to get those up and running soon.”

Charles reported that there were currently five people who need to be medevaced from the hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department.

“The French authorities have indicated that they will take them to Martinique. There is also one critically ill police officer who sustained major trauma that needs to be airlifted,” he said, while adding the needs of dialysis patients were also a cause for concern.

Dominica remains in a state of emergency after it was devastated by a category five Hurricane Maria last week.

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Dr. Warren Smith

CDB President participates in high-level mission to Dominica

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Sep. 28, CMC – President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. Warren Smith has reaffirmed the regional institution’s support for the government and people of COminica, following a high level mission to the hurricane ravaged island earlier this week.
Dr. Warren Smith
Dr. Warren Smith

“CDB stands in solidarity with the Government and people of Dominica as the country seeks to rebuild and recover from this devastating disaster.  We are acutely aware of the significant damage that Hurricane Maria has caused, and have mobilised resources for emergency relief and immediate response. CDB reaffirms our continued support for Dominica to help the country rebuild more resiliently in the months and years to come,” said Smith on his return to CDB’s Headquarters.

The CDB President, was part of a delegation that met with the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit in the capital of Roseau to discuss rehabilitation and recovery efforts for the country following Hurricane Maria.

Meanwhile, the bank has started making preparations to assist with the restoration of essential services including water and sanitation, and lend technical experts to support the recovery efforts.

The Bank’s focus will include the restoration of the water supply in Roseau, where damage to the treatment plant at Antrim and associated pipelines has cut off water in the capital.

CDB, which was in the process of upgrading the plant and equipment through its Third Water Project, is discussing with the Dominica Water and Sewerage Company Limited, ways to overcome the current logistical challenges to conduct the works, which will be critical in getting the water system running again in Roseau.

CDB is in discussions with private consultants and development partners to provide short and medium-term assistance, including engineers and other technical experts, to assist line Ministries in Dominica in the recovery effort. The Bank is also discussing with regional utility groups and engineering associations opportunities for providing financial support and human resources to assist with recovery in Dominica.

The bank has also discussed with the government, the option of re-prioritising the use of undisbursed balances on existing disaster rehabilitation loans for post-Maria recovery works.

The delegation that visited Dominica included Dr.  Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister, Grenada and Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); Adriel Brathwaite, Attorney General of Barbados; H.E. Irwin LaRocque, Secretary-General, CARICOM; and Ronald Jackson, Executive Director, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

Dominica seeking to negotiation US$100 million agreement with World Bank

ROSEAU, Dominica, Sept 26, CMC – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said Tuesday he is negotiating with the World Bank for US$100 million in loans and grants to help the island undertake recovery work following the passage of Hurricane Maria last week.
Roosevelt Skerrit
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit

Speaking at the daily news briefing, Skerrit said that the Washington0based financial institution has already agreed to 64 million dollars in loans and grants “and I am negotiating for them to take it to 100 million dollars.

“They have asked me to come to Washington to further negotiate this package. I told them I would come if they will take it to 100 million, so we are trying to push them to take it to100 million US dollars in a combination of grants and loans,” Skerrit told reporters.

He said that the island had received US$19 million from the Catastrophic Risk Insurance Policy and deposited at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and that a number of governments and agencies have been making commitments since the hurricane struck the island last Monday.

He sought to re-assure citizens that food supplies were being received and would be distributed throughout the island as he urged people with transportation to assist in getting the supplies to needy communities.

Skerrit said he was sending a letter to the University of the West Indies (UWI) urging that it does not take any action that would hamper the Dominican students there from continuing to pursue their education.

“We will make arrangements to keep our commitments to the University of the West Indies. We are also informing the universities, especially in the United States, where we have large number of students to indicate to them that oince the financial system is up we will keep our commitments to our students so they can be at school.

“So I want all the students who are universities, who have commitment letters from the government, do not let your heart be troubled, we will keep our commitments to you so you can continue your education and our hope and prayer is that you come back to your country to help the country once you have completed your studies,” Skerrit said.

He also urged people not to flock to the ports here seeking minor packages, indicating that the emphasis now is to get the major relief supplies moved quickly on arrival in Dominica.

“I believe from next week we can start receiving personal packages where they can be sorted out and your family and friends can get it. The last thing I want in this country is for anybody to accuse the Customs, the Port and anybody else in the government system of stealing their packages.

“We want to ensure that there are good government practices with respect to the receipt and delivery of supplies to the people, My assurance to the people is that the supplies will be distributed in a transparent, accountable, equitable fashion,” he said, urging the public to disapprove of rumours that would be “flying left right and center”.

“Let us remain positive we have work to do, it is not easy, it is challenging,” he added.

During the news briefing, representatives from the various services, including water and telecommunications provided updates on the progress to restore the services as quickly as possible.


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EU disburses EC$806,000 in humanitarian aid to Dominica

TRINIDAD-POLITICS- Rowley disappointed in response to invitation extended to Dominicans

PORT OF SPAIN,Trinidad, Sep. 22, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has expressed disappointment at negative comments following an invitation extended to displaced Dominicans in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Rowley, who was a guest on the local television station – TV6, on Friday morning, said he was disappointed with reports of some saying  that humanitarian gesture was a means of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM), securing votes in upcoming elections.

DominicaHowever, the Prime Minister told the host of  TV6’s morning edition, that  he would not dignify that claim with a response.

Asked if he expected political backlash over his decision to ease immigration restrictions and allow Dominicans into the country, Rowley said: “No I don’t. It is my view and I believe genuinely that the vast majority of people in T&T are decent and caring people. And from that standpoint I don’t expect that, that would cause any political calamity for me and the PNM.”

Rowley said the decision is a response to a specific natural disaster for a specific period of time and for Dominicans, “to return from whence they came.”

He however added, that under the United Nations charter to which the twin island republic is a signatory, if people arrive in the country without a place to stay, they would then become wards of the State.

“There is a United Nations charter where we are signatories where such person can be viewed as a refugee and you are duty-bound not to turn them back. They will become a ward of the State…if Dominican refugees come here in any significant number we in Trinidad and Tobago have the ability to treat with it because it would be a situation we had not planned for before, the circumstances would require we put our best foot forward. But I don’t expect an overwhelming number of people to do that,” Rowley said.

During Thursday’s post cabinet press briefing, the Prime Minister said his administration will wave the immigration requirements for residents  of Dominica for a period of six months as the CARICOM member state rebuilds.

He also said places could be made available in schools across the twin island republic for Dominican children to continue their education.

“In situations like these, whatever we have available to us, we the people have always been generous are and willing to share…..for the next six months, TT will open our doors, our homes, our pots and I daresay out schools to the people of the Commonwealth of Dominica,”Rowley then said.

He said those Dominicans taking up the offer must be able to clearly identify friends or family who will be able to accommodate them.

The Prime minister  said arrangements will be made for  any citizen who has accommodation and is willing to help provide shelter .

He stressed that Dominicans who choose to come to the country, will not be classified as refugees.

From Roseau to Loubiere, a reflection of the fury of a hurricane

September 22, 2017

By Peter Richards

ROSEAU, Dominica, Sept 22, CMC – When I lived in Dominica, nearly two decades ago, it would take me at least 15 minutes to walk from the capital, Roseau, to Loubiere in the south.

On Friday, it took me nearly two hours. I had no choice. Transportation was impossible given the widespread disaster that Hurricane Maria brought to this Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that was just emerging from the ravages of Tropical Storm Erika two years ago.

Maria 4
My home in Loubiere (CMC Photo)

Unofficially, the death toll from Monday’s storm that, in the words of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit “brutalised” the island, is as high as 60, depending on who you meet. But, so far, the official death toll is 28.

The figures vary because the authorities have not been able to visit some of the villages that were hit by the storm with winds in excess of 180 miles per hour. As I joined in the exodus of people making the daily walk to Loubiere and other villages such as Point Michel, Grand Bay, Bagatelle, Petite Savanne and Soufriere among others, the talk centered on many people who were killed on Monday night and have since been buried.

“There were at least 14 people that died in the storm in Point Michel,” said Vincent john, while Thomas Kentish, the former Windward Islands cricketer, described the hurricane and the aftermath as “brutal.

“It is brutal, boy Peter, it is brutal,” he said.

Another of the walkers, John Vincent, said “I am even afraid to mention the word, Maria. It is terrifying.

“In fact the wind was so strong it was actually communicating, saying something we could not understand. But it was so powerful that it was actually saying ‘get out” it was hollering and, clearly I understood what we went through”.

His remarks about the wind reminded me of an earlier conversation with Chris Rolle, who when I lived here, used to be a transcendental meditation (TM) follower.

“I was whistling, it was singing, it was, I can’t say, but it was not normal,” he said, recalling how he sat in his home, a stone throw from the official residence of President Charles Savarin.

Maria 2
Roman Catholic Church in Newtown

“I was doing nothing and just wondering, what next,” he added.

On the way to Loubiere, we are passed by some people, armed with suitcases, others pushing wheelbarrows with goods surely that were not bought from any of the stores.

It’s like an organised system. Young men armed with cutlasses make their way into the capital and even where some businesses have survived the onslaught of the hurricane, seem to think it is their duty to loot. They also did not confine their activities to businesses.

“They take our fridge, our computers, like it is theirs,” one woman bemoaned, while others were resigned to the fact that their homes would be “looted” because “you could stay on the road and see right through the house”.

As we walk towards our destination, we come across a writing on a piece of wall.

“Jesus is coming soon. Satan the dog is doomed. Mystery Babylon is doomed. To god be the glory”.

The Roman Catholic Church in Newtown, one of the villages that divide Roseau and Loubiere, is providing much more than spiritual help to the battered residents.

In front of the church, several clothes lines have appeared, as the residents take advantage of a river nearby that has changed course and made the once main road, its new path to flow.

Children run happily in the yard, oblivious to the pain and suffering that the hurricane brought upon their parents, who have also found shelter in the ground floor of the church.

Maria 3
Anchorage Hotel

The road to Loubiere has changed dramatically. Now you have to climb hills and mountains of debris and mud, galvanise, some with rusty nails still protruding, streams and rivers, which until Monday were not part of the network.

Dominica used to be green with envy. The rolling hillsides underscored the “nature isle” tag that had been placed on the island. The flora and fauna were sights to behold.

“Dominica is a desert, from green to brown in just eight hours. Transformed from lush greenery to desert brown, “said Jano Jacob, a local writer, adding “the rivers vomited wood and mud, left in basins since Erika two years ago.

“We went through a nuclear hurricane, “he added.

The hotels along the route have also suffered, and it is not likely that they will be receiving guests in any hurry. The destruction, as in other parts of the country, according to reports, is indeed intense.

Despite, the company, the walk is extremely tiring but at least I am entering the village of Loubiere, but just before I do, a friend tells me to prepare myself for the worse.

I looked to the left for divine intervention. The Roman Catholic Church, which on many Sundays brought nearly the entire village together in prayer, stood like a shell as water from the nearby river meandered across its new found route, with big boulders as its only stumbling block, albeit for mere seconds.

He was indeed right. After going through the mud and rivers to reach my home in Loubiere, where in the past, I sat in the verandah and watched the junction as traffic and people crossed each other like an international airport, each going about their respective businesses. I was stunned.

While the structure stood there, it had no windows, the roof had disappeared and my room was no longer visible.

A 32-seater bus that belonged to the Voice of Life radio station, a good half a mile away was parked neatly among the rocks that the river had brought down from the interior. My Aunt, Lucy Alexander, a retired public servant and her two daughters, who had to be rescued from the house, are now in a shelter.

“But there is hope, by the grace of God we have life, pray for us,” she said in a Whatsapp message to her daughter in the United States.

And as I started the journey back to the capital, Roseau, I reflected on the situation in other parts of the country, where efforts are now underway to try and reach villages cut off by a rampaging Hurricane Maria.

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Nordic region

Nordic countries pledge funds to assist CARICOM states affected by hurricanes


GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Sep. 22, CMC  – The five countries of the Nordic region have indicated that they will render assistance through the United Nations (UN), to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states that were affected by recent hurricanes.

Nordic region
The revelation came during a meeting on Thursday with CARICOM Foreign Affairs Ministers and representatives from the Nordic region.

The countries in the Nordic region are Iceland, Finland, Denmark , Norway, and Sweden.

“I think they are offering about US$1 million through that body (the UN) and also immediately mentioned $100,000 Swiss francs to Antigua and Barbuda”, said Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge.

Climate change was also a feature of the discussions between the regional blocs.

“There was a wide-ranging and extensive discussion on the impact of hurricanes, what we need to do, questions of mitigation as well as of prevention”, Greenidge said.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria brought severe destruction to the CARICOM states they passed through.

The island of Barbuda was rendered practically uninhabitable after the rage of Hurricane Irma, while Dominica was recently severely affected by Hurricane Maria.

Meanwhile, the Nordic countries sought support for their candidacy to various positions within the UN.

Denmark requested CARICOM’s support in its candidacy bid to join the Human Rights Council while Sweden thanked the Ministers for their support last year in assisting the country to join the Security Council.

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Hurricane releif aid from across the region and the world

Barbados Defence Force and fire service to assist hurricane battered Dominica

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Sep. 19, CMC –  A team of firemen from the Barbados Fire Service left the island on Tuesday for Dominica to render much needed assistance to the country that was devastated by Hurricane Maria late Monday.

Chief Fire Officer, Errol Maynard, confirmed that four teams were mobilised following an emergency meeting at the Bridgetown Fire Station on Tuesday morning and the teams will be rotated in the island over the next six weeks.

CDEMA He noted that all off duty personnel have beencalled into action to maintain numbers locally.

Maynard said the first team would include a commanding officer and six fire officers who were emergency management technicians and rescue personnel, to provide assistance to the country in those areas.

In addition, a four-man team is expected to be deployed to render assistance in Tortola  in the British Virgin Islands on Wednesday.

The rescue effort was being coordinated through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

Meanwhile, the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) is deploying a contingent to assist the Commonwealth of Dominica in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria

This disclosure has come from the BDF’s Public Relations Officer, Captain Maria Moore, who said humanitarian assistance and disaster relief would be provided to the island.

The BDF contingent is expected to be deployed within the next 12 hours aboard the HMBS Leonard C. Banfield.

Captain Moore added that Barbadians could also provide support to Dominicans by donating bottle water, medical/first aid supplies, canned foods, baby items and general hygiene products to the BDF at St. Ann’s Fort, Garrison, St. Michael, or the Barbados Coast Guard .

She said  the items will be taken when the Coast Guard vessel sets sail with BDF and Barbados Fire Service contingents.

As part of the BDF’s mandate, support is provided to the Regional Security System, Member States, CDEMA, CARICOM and the wider region.

Meanwhile, CDEMA’s Executive Director, Ronald Jackson on Tuesday said  Barbados will be the hub for the Dominica disaster response.

During a media briefing he disclosed that  members of the Rapid Assessment team, search and rescue personnel and a communications kit will depart for Dominica on Tuesday evening along with a CDEMA team .

He added that  units will also  be deployed from St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

It is expected that the Coast Guard vessel will arrive by 6 a.m. Wednesday morning and it will also be taking supplies from Barbados to Dominica, which, Jackson said, had depleted its own reserves while assisting sister islands affected by Hurricane Irma earlier this month.

“Dominica, through their own solidarity with some of the affected states, would have deployed a lot of their emergency relief items to the British Virgin Islands so they are currently without adequate relief supplies,” he explained, saying that Dominica has an immediate need for supplies to begin its national response to the disaster.

Jackson said based on the geography of Dominica, the rescue and relief operations will be “extremely complex”.

He said while communication on what is happening on the ground is still very sketchy, disaster officials are anticipating a series of landslides and rockfalls all over Dominica which, he said, will make access to very difficult via road or foot.

CDEMA was, however, able to confirm, through amateur radio contact with Dominica in the early afternoon, severe damage to Marigot on the northeastern side of island. .

According to Jackson, the entire population of Dominica, some 69 – 70,000 people, would face direct or indirect impacts from the hurricane, in terms of shelter, access or relief distribution.

Late Monday  Dominica’s  Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, who had earlier reported that he had to be “rescued’ from his own residence,  said in a Whatsapp message relayed by Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan that the world must know of the devastation to the island.

Skerrit, who had earlier reported that he had to be “rescued’ from his own residence,  said in a Whatsapp message relayed by Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan that the world must know of the devastation to the island.

World Council of Credit Unions activates Caribbean Relief Fund


BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Sep. 20, CMC – The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) has activated a Caribbean Relief Fund to support credit unions that have been affected by Hurricane Irma that recently devastated sections of the Caribbean .

World Council of Credit UnionsAccording to the WOCCU, there are more than 10,000 active credit union members in Anguilla, Barbuda, Tortoal and St. Kitts Nevis – countries that felt the wrath of Irma, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history.

Unofficial estimates from the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions, a member of the World Council, indicate that approximately US$1.9 billion may be required for reconstruction in the affected countries.

“It is through these difficult times that out global community comes together to show its strength and reach beyond borders to help those in need,” said Brian Branch, the president and chief executive to WOCCU.

The WOCCU is raising funds through the Worldwide  Foundation of Credit Unions, its official gift receiving and grant making arm.

In addition to the Caribbean region, the foundation is raising funds to provide relief for those impacted by storms in the United States.

Over the past four years, the foundation has devlivered approximately US$1 million in aid to credit union organisations affected by natural disasters in the Philippines, Nepal, Ecuador, Malawi and Columbia.

Caribbean mobilizes to help Dominica

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Sep. 20, CMC – Member states within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are preparing to offer assistance to Dominica following the passage of Hurricane Maria late Monday.

According CARICOM Chairman, Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell of Grenada, the situation is a challenging one.

Dominica “It is clear that we have a tremendous challenge on our hands, in the Caribbean region as a whole,” said Mitchell who was responding to the effects of Hurricane Maria in Dominica, said he spoke to his colleague Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit late Monday, during the passage of the hurricane.

Mitchell who was speaking to journalists on Wednesday pleaded with Grenadians to reach out to Dominicans “we, in Grenada must recognize that we have a tremendous responsibility to help out our brothers and sisters in Dominica and all other affected countries. This is about us, the region.”

Mitchell recently returned from the Turks and Caicos and several Islands in the Bahamas that were affected by Hurricane Irma last week.

And in St. Lucia following a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, acting Prime Minister Lenard Montoute said plans were already underway to make St Lucia an operational base for the relief effort to Dominica.

“Right now our thoughts are with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and the people of Dominica. Preliminary information is that we have widespread devastation in Dominica,” said Minister Montoute. “From our understanding they are facing a very critical situation and our prayers are with them, as our sister and neighbour. We have to respond and do what we can to assist our brothers and sisters in Dominica.”

He also said that communication has been made with the French and Venezuelan authorities in terms of assistance.

“St Lucia will be used as the base for relief efforts into Dominica because, as you can well appreciate, the airports are not operational; neither are the sea ports. Reconnaissance flights will have to be made to ascertain the actual situation on the ground and for immediate preparation to be made for the landing of helicopters and other aircrafts. We are looking at what assistance we can give immediately and that may entail medical assistance and sending medical personnel and people with expertise in search and rescue. We are hoping that by this evening an assessment of the situation would have been made and we can get a better appreciation of the kind of assistance that is immediately required,” Mitchell said.

With St Lucia being used as an operational base for the humanitarian effort, the Government has agreed in conjunction with the St Lucia Air and Sea Port Authority to waive fees and facilitate the use of warehouse facilities for receipt and distribution.

Meanwhile, the political leader of the  main opposition St. Lucia Labour Party Philip J. Pierre says the party has initiated a “help Dominica” drive and the party has opened its headquarters in order to receive donations.

Seven people have so far been confirmed dead as a result of Hurricane Maria’s direct hit on Dominica on Monday night., but there are fears that death toll could rise as officials get into communities that have not yet been reached.

Much of the island’s housing stock were either damaged or destroyed by Maria’s 160 mile-per-hour winds, according to Hartley Henry, principal advisor to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

St Lucia is coordinating with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission on the response efforts.

British Government helping Guyana to distribute hurricane supplies

GEOGETOWN, Guyana, Sep. 21, CMC  – The British Government is working with Guyana in an effort to get supplies to countries in the region that have been devastated by hurricanes.

On Thursday, Minister of State Joe Harmon said the British Government through the local High Commission has indicated that it will make a C-130 military aircraft available to take supplies from Guyana to Antigua and Barbuda.

C-130 HerculesHarmon told reporters that at least 10 containers will be dispatched initially with supplies .

He said the supplies will be taken to Antigua  from where they will be distributed by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

According to Harmon, the government has also committed to sending medical and other emergency personnel to the islands.

He added that prior to Britain’s help, the private sector was considering hiring a 300 tonne capacity vessel to take the supplies.

GAICO, a privately-owned company, has already paid US$12,000 to transport one container of supplies to Antigua.

The supplies will be distributed to St Maarten, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Dominica that were all affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

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Puerto Rico - Hurricane Maria

US ‘stands in solidarity’ with Dominica, Caribbean on ravages of Hurricane Irma

WASHINGTON, Sep. 21, CMC – The United States on Wednesday said that it “stands in solidarity with the people of Dominica and all those across the Caribbean region” affected by Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico - Hurricane Maria“The United States stands ready to work with you and our international partners to provide immediate disaster relief,” said US Department of States spokesperson Heather Nauert in a statement.

“We are in the process of coordinating the best possible package of assistance,” she added. “The recent natural disasters underscore our interconnectedness and the importance of strong partnership with the Caribbean.”

Nauert said the Department of State has an ongoing Task Force working to determine the extent of the damages, to coordinate evacuation efforts, and to provide assistance to US citizens in the affected countries.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the Caribbean region,” she said.

Hurricane Maria,  the most powerful storm to make a direct hit on Puerto Rico in almost a century, ravaged the island on Wednesday, knocking out all electricity, deluging towns with flashfloods and mudslides and compounding the already considerable pain of residents.

DominicaLess than two weeks ago, another powerful storm –  Hurricane Irma  dealt the island “a glancing blow,” killing at least three people and leaving nearly 70 percent of households without power.

Hurricane Maria, which made landfall on Puerto Rico at 6 a.m (local time) on Wednesday, as a Category 4 hurricane, took out the island’s entire power grid, and only added to the woes of a commonwealth that has been groaning under the weight of an extended debt and bankruptcy crisis.

Hurricane Maria also slammed into Dominica late Tuesday.

The storm has devastated infrastructure and led to seven deaths.

NY sends police, fire fighters to help Caribbean with Hurricane Maria recovery


NEW YORK – New York City will be helping the victims of Hurricane Maria across the Caribbean by sending 27 members of the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Fire Department of New York  (FDNY) to assist in the recovery efforts.

fdny-harvey-rescueAccording to Mayor Bill de Blasio , 27 members of the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) left for  Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the region assist in the recovery efforts.

The members of the NYPD and FDNY, including medics and disaster relief professionals make up the city’s Urban Search and Rescue team.

There are 28 Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) Urban Search and Rescue teams strategically located throughout the United States, which can also be deployed to the region within six hours of activation.

Meantime,  Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda is expected to focus the world’s attention on climate change and its effects on the Caribbean when he addresses the United Nations General Assembly Thursday evening.

Before departing Antigua on Wednesday, Browne said his primary objective is to speak about the devastation of the sister isle of Barbuda, which was ravaged by Hurricane Irma and to rally the support of the international community for the island.

“I will also be speaking to the issue of Climate Change,” Browne said. “We recognize that in some quarters they are arguing against the issue of climate change.

“We are the ones who are suffering the consequences of climate change here in the Caribbean,” he added. “I want to ensure that I am one of the major advocates on the issue of climate change.”

Browne said his intention is to work with individuals, such as former US Vice President Al Gore and others, to become “more integrally involved” in advancing the arguments in favor of climate change,” according to an Antigua and Barbuda government statement.

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Strengthening Hurricane Maria closes in on Leeward Islands

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Sept 18, CMC – Hurricane Maria was rapidly intensifying into a major hurricane with weather forecasters predicting that the eye of the storm would move through the Leeward Islands later on Monday.

In its 11.00 am (local time) weather bulletin, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that the Category 3 storm moving towards the west-northwest near 10 miles per hour (mph) and this motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected through Tuesday night.

Mariai“On the forecast track, the center of Maria will move across the Leeward Islands late today and tonight, over the extreme northeastern Caribbean Sea Tuesday and Tuesday night, and approach Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on Wednesday,” the NHc said.

Hurricane Maria, which is coming less than two weeks after Hurricane Irma swept through the Leeward Islands killing more than 40 people and causing millions of dollars in damages, is now located about 60 miles east of Martinique and 95 miles, east south east of Dominica.

It has maximum sustained winds of 120 mph and NHC said “additional rapid strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours.

“Maria is expected to be a dangerous major hurricane as it moves through the Leeward Islands and the northeastern Caribbean Sea,” the NHC said, warning that hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles.

A Hurricane warning is in effect for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat , St. Lucia and Martinique, while a hurricane watch has been issued for Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra, U.S. Virgin Islands,  British Virgin Islands, Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy and Anguilla

A Tropical Storm warning is in effect for Antigua and Barbuda, Saba and St. Eustatius while

Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have been placed under a tropical storm watch.

The regional airline, LIAT, has announced the cancellation of 23 flights for Monday in the wake of the hurricane. It said most of the cancel flights are between St Vincent to St Lucia, Antigua, Dominica and St Kitts.

Dominica and St. Lucia have already announced a close down of businesses, schools and other non-essential services while in St. Kitts-Nevis, banks have advised customers that they would be closing from midday.

NHC warned that hurricane conditions are first expected within portions of the Leeward Islands by late Monday, with tropical storm conditions beginning during the day.

It said hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area by Tuesday, with tropical storm conditions possible tonight.  Tropical storm conditions are possible in the tropical storm watch area through tonight.

Hurricane Maria is expected to produce total rain accumulations of six to 12 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches across the central and southern Leeward Islands, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, through Wednesday night.

“Maria is also expected to produce total rain accumulations of two to four inches with isolated maximum amounts of eight inches over the remaining northern Leeward Islands from Barbuda to Anguilla, as well as the Windward Islands and Barbados.  Rainfall on all of these islands could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,” NHC added.

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The Montserrat Reporter - August 18, 2017