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Dominican Prime Minister pleads for aid

SUPPORT NEEDED: Dominica is seeking aid after Hurricane Maria devastated the island

THE DOMINICAN Prime Minister has urged the international community to provide ‘meaningful aid’, following the devastation and displacement caused by Hurricane Maria.

The Category 5 storm, which lashed the island last Tuesday, resulted in 27 fatalities to date whilst dozens of others are currently missing.

According to news reports on the ground, the ‘nature isle of the Caribbean’ is spiralling into chaos. It’s estimated that 98 per cent of buildings have been left damaged, with the majority of Dominica’s 72,000 population experiencing water, food and medical care shortages.

While addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York recently, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said:

“I call upon those with substantial military capacities to lend us the rescue and rebuilding equipment that would be standing idle waiting for a war. Let Dominica today be that war because currently our landscape reflects a zone of war.”

The Prime Minister compared the destruction to that caused by Hurricane Erika two years ago. While the storm in 2015 damaged the infrastructure of the country, such as roads, pipes and bridges, Maria has been more destructive to buildings. He said:


DISTRAUGHT: Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit

“We now have far more who are homeless and without a roof over their head and with little or no hope of having one short term.”

Dominica was still recovering from the destruction caused by Tropical Storm Erika, which wiped out an estimated 90 per cent of the country’s GDP. Hurricane Maria has caused devastation on an even greater scale.

Speaking to The Voice, Janet Charles, the Dominican High Commissioner, said:

“The situation is very difficult, because without the basics life will always be a struggle, but the Dominican people are resilient. The looting is under control and there is a strong community spirit. People are opening their homes to assist those who have no shelter. Dominica is an Eden, which has been destroyed, but we are committed to do all we can to restore the island to its former beauty.”

The High Commissioner said the response to the call for relief supplies from Caribbean people in the UK was outstanding. She said that one container was ordered to transport goods to the ravaged island when the call went out, via social media last Friday.

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Charles added:

“The amount of goods that was offered meant that three containers were eventually sent to Dominica. I’m very proud of the response.”

Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, announced recently that the UK will provide Dominica with £5 million in UK aid. She said:

“The UK has pledged to give £5 million to the people of Dominica, the island worst hit by Hurricane Maria – on top of the £57 million already promised to the region – to strengthen recovery following these relentless disasters. The UK is leading the way in the re- lief effort, delivering emergency food, water and shelter to those who need it most.”

Neighbouring Caribbean islands across the region have also provided assistance. Nearly three tonnes of food items have been collected and donated from across Trinidad & Tobago, while Saint Lucia has provided £14,000 of relief supplies to the island. According to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, the regional inter-governmental agency for disaster management in the Caribbean Community, there is not only immediate need for food and water, but diapers, adult pampers, mattresses and kitchen sets.

Prime Minister Skerrit said the Dominican people were casualties in the war against climate change.

During an impassioned speech to the United Nations, he said:

“72,000 Dominicans lie on the frontline of a war they did not choose with extensive casualties. While the big countries talk, the small island nations suffer. We need action and we need it now. We are shouldering the consequences of the actions of the others – and all for the enrichment of a few elsewhere.”

The Dominica Hurricane Relief Fund has raised nearly £80,000 in donations. If you would like to make a contribution to the relief effort, click here.

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