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Gov’t mobilising basic supplies for vulnerable communities; Nagamootoo vows “there will be no abuse”

Acting Director General of the CDC, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig.

In light of the month-long emergency measures instituted by the Ministry of Public Health in the fight against COVID-19, the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) is mobilising resources to support vulnerable persons and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic that has sickened and killed people in Guyana.

The CDC is harnessing the resources through the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) and, according to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, efforts would be made to ensure only needy people would get assistance. He said the Ministry of Communities, Ministry of Social Protection, senior citizens, social assistance recipients and others would be targeted on the coast and the interior.

Nagamootoo, who chairs the National COVID-19 Task Force, said he has asked the Director General of the CDC, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig to provide him with an outline of the planned distribution exercise. The Prime Minister said he would not tolerate any abuse. “This is something that has to be needs-based and not just whimsically handed out to persons or even subjected the process to abuse. There will be no abuse while I am heading this Task Force and the people most in need will get assistance first,” Nagamootoo told a news conference on Saturday.

Government’s announcement that it would distribute aid to vulnerable groups came days after the African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA) and Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo called for assistance, including food to be distributed to people due to a loss of jobs, income and closure of markets.

The NEOC, which was activated on March 31, 2020 aims to ensure the highest level of collaboration among all stakeholders to further prevent the spread of the disease, enhance preparation and strengthen local response to this global pandemic.

Craig in brief remarks said the Commission through the NEOC will be working with all its partners, including the private sector, to ensure that adequate relief items including masks, hygiene products and food supplies are mobilized to assist those in need.

“We are working to ensure that these supplies are available to the citizens who are directly impacted by the measures implemented to help the fight against the COVID-19. The Commission, prior to this had already stockpiled supplies and we continue to work with our partners of the NEOC including the Ministry of Communities, Food For the Poor, the Private Sector Commission, United Nations, the National Commission on Disabilities Guyana, the National Bureau of Statistics and the Guyana Defence Force. It is our intention to ensure that every individual who has been affected by these measures, receives the support they need,” he was quoted as saying in a government news release.

Lt. Col Craig also noted that the Commission welcomes assistance and donations from any company or individual who is willing to join the cause. The donations he said, can be made in three categories: food supplies, personal care and sanitation supplies and financing.

Companies or persons who wish to donate could do so at the CDC headquarters, Thomas Road, Thomas Lands, or make cash or cheque deposits into its Republic Bank account number 962356519938. Food and hygiene supplies can be dropped off at the Thomas Lands location daily between 09:00 hours and 15:00 hours.

Additionally, systems will be put in place to facilitate the dropping off of supplies in the other administrative regions. Alternatively, contact can be made with the Commission on telephone numbers (592) 226 1114, 226 8815 and 226 1027.

Several agencies including the Ministry of Social Protection and the Ministry of Communities have been tasked with identifying citizens who are in need of support during this time.

The Director General noted that the packing of the care packages has begun and the distribution points and dates would be released as soon as they are finalised.