Sun | Feb 18, 2018

CARICOM secretary general also sympathetic

Published:Monday | October 10, 2016 | 12:00 AM
David Laffita, 26, constructs a makeshift clothes line as his wife, Julia Elena Azahares, watches, standing in the ruins of their home destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Baracoa, Cuba, on Friday. Matthew hit Cuba’'s lightly populated eastern tip on Tuesday night, damaging hundreds of homes in the easternmost city of Baracoa, but there were no reports of deaths. Nearly 380,000 people were evacuated and measures were taken to protect infrastructure.

Caribbean Community Secretary General Irwin LaRocque has expressed sympathy and extended condolences to the families of those who lost their lives during the passage of Hurricane Matthew.

"I also empathise with the thousands who have lost their homes and property on account of the storm," he said in a statement.

LaRocque said CARICOM expresses its solidarity with the governments and people of the many states affected by Hurricane Matthew as it swept through the region.

"The catastrophic storm has affected our members from Barbados to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia and Dominica to Haiti, Jamaica, The Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. It has also affected Cuba and Dominican Republic and left in its wake significant loss of life, property and infrastructure," he said.

"To date, Haiti has been the most seriously affected with more than 800 deaths, thousands displaced and widespread flooding and devastation in parts of the country, raising concerns about a resurgence of cholera," said the secretary general.

He said the full scale of fatalities and destruction has not yet been assessed as the isolation of the most affected areas has been exacerbated by the damage of key road and the communications infrastructure, noting that "we are also concerned about reports of extensive damage in The Bahamas".

LaRocque said the CARICOM response is being led by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), which has been working with national relief organisations to assess damage, determine priority needs and provide relief.

The secretary general has been in discussions with the leadership of the countries affected as well with the executive director of CDEMA as the community faces the serious and recurring challenge.

LaRocque said the passage of Matthew underlines once again the vulnerability of Caribbean small island developing and low-lying coastal states to the vagaries of climate action and the reversals they bring to sustainable development efforts.

He said the early response to the aftermath of Matthew as well as the supportive facility put in place to help resource the required recovery and rebuilding effort also underline the critical importance of the regional institutional frameworks established by the community, CDEMA and the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) which has already processed payment to two of the affected countries, Barbados and Haiti.

"On behalf of the community, I once again extend heartfelt condolences to the families who lost their loved ones and to the governments and peoples of the affected countries. They can be assured that CARICOM is fully engaged in assisting their recovery and rebuilding efforts," he said.