Caribbean leaders agree to appeal for international hurricane financial relief

Last Updated on Tuesday, 2 July 2024, 20:19 by Writer

CARICOM leaders and their representatives meeting in an emergency virtual summit to discuss their response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Beryl.

In the wake of devastation and death caused by Hurricane Beryl, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders met in an emergency session on Tuesday and agreed to ask the international community for financial relief.

“The extent of destruction here will definitely require international support, not only immediate financial support in the form of grants and long-term low-interest concessional loans but also help in terms of restructuring existing loans,” outgoing CARICOM Chairman, Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali told Demerara Waves Online News.

He said even Barbados that was spared the brunt of Hurricane Beryl was among the islands that were facing a “devastating” period. He said regional leaders agreed definitively to “reach out to all stakeholders to commence discussions on international support.”

Regionally, he said CARICOM countries were responding in various forms to the badly affected countries. He said Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana were providing shiploads of supplies. He said the twin-island nation has offered “tremendous support”. “There are two vessels that they are coordinating with to load food and other supplies to go to Grenada and they are in discussions on all other help that is needed,” he said.

He said Guyana, which already dispatched a planeload of supplies to Grenada, would be dispatching two cargo vessels with supplies to that country as well as St Vincent and the Grenadines. “We have secured the rental of two vessels 1,200 tonnes and I think 900 tonnes. One will be going to St Vincent and one will be going to Grenada with critical supplies- equipment, hardware supplies to help in this process,” he said.

Hundreds of houses and other buildings have been severely damaged or destroyed in Carriacou, a sister island of Grenada, as well as Bequia, Union Island and other Vincentian sister islands.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) on Tuesday said it has begun talks with hurricane-affected countries to help them fund urgent needs. The Bank says it is ready to respond to immediate support requests, and decisions on the amounts of money to be provided will depend on damage assessments. 

The Barbados-based bank says it is also collaborating with development partners and the international donor community to combine resources and ensure the best impact. 

The CDB says it will immediately provide customary support for the Regional Response Mechanism to be spearheaded by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. This includes mobilisation and coordination of disaster relief to get necessities, resources and assistance to the affected areas as quickly as possible.

The regional financial institution says where necessary, human resources will also be provided to increase capacity on the ground.