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UK aid continues to arrive for Hurricane Irma victims

DISASTER: The aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands (credit: Reuters)

OVER 60 tonnes of UK aid has now reached the Caribbean to support the victims of Hurricane Irma, with another 60 on the way on board HMS Ocean.

British military troops, along with DFID logisticians, supported the restoration of electricity to the main power station on the British Virgin Islands as part of the ongoing recovery operation.

Six UK medical health experts have been deployed to Antigua to assess the capacity of healthcare provisions on affected islands in the region.

The team, made up of experts from UK-Med and Public Health England, will measure the current state of public health and any potential threat of disease breaking out.

International Development Secretary Priti Patel said: “The Government has been working non-stop to get vital assistance to the victims of Hurricane Irma in the last week.

“Aid continues to arrive on the affected islands on a daily basis, and we’ll continue to do all that is needed to get people back on their feet.

“We are also looking at long-term recovery on the islands. We want to get families back into houses, and schools and hospitals working again as soon as possible.”

Yesterday (Thursday), a flight carrying aid reached Turks and Caicos Islands delivering over 150 shelter kits and 720 litres of water.

Further flights carrying UK aid arrived in the affected areas earlier this week. Two of these flights, headed to Anguilla, delivered nearly five tonnes of food and water

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A flight carrying three tonnes of food and water also arrived in the British Virgin Islands. This much-needed aid has already been distributed on Tortola alongside 40 shelter kits in Road Town.

Elsewhere, British aid experts quickly sorted and arranged for the delivery of 1 tonne of food aid including biscuits, fish, vegetables and sausages, in addition to 38 packs of water and shelter kits in BVI. The items were distributed to 130 families using a school as a shelter after their homes were destroyed in the hurricane

A senior civil expert has been deployed to the Caribbean to coordinate the entire UK Task Force following Hurricane Irma. Chris Austin, recently based with DFID in Afghanistan, will oversee civilian and military operations as part of the UK’s response.

This week, Prime Minister Theresa May announced an additional £25 million to support Hurricane Irma recovery efforts, on top of £32 million announced last week. The announcement takes the UK’s support to the disaster to £57 million.

The funding will continue to meet immediate needs and early recovery.

Several hospitals, schools, roads and other public services remain affected following Hurricane Irma, and the support will help to get basic infrastructure and services up and running again.

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Additionally, the UK government is doubling any public donations made to the Red Cross appeal for the hurricane’s victims up to £3million.

Aid also continues to be distributed by British military personnel and the Red Cross, coordinated by DFID.

The overall UK response today involves over 1,000 military personnel, 50 police officers, and 30 aid workers.

The aid on HMS Ocean includes over 5,000 hygiene kits containing essential items such as soap and a torch, 500,000 water purification tablets and 10,000 buckets.

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