CARICOM rallies support for hurricane-ravaged country
Barbados and its Caribbean Community (CARICOM) neighbours are being asked not to abandon hurricane-hit Haiti and The Bahamas following the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew last week.
CARICOM is rallying support to help meet the most pressing needs in the two member states as they embark on a recovery and rehabilitation process.
During a CARICOM high level mission to both countries this week, led by chairman Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica and Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRoque, meetings were held with government officials in Haiti and The Bahamas and the matters that required urgent attention were identified.
“With over 300 schools damaged throughout the affected areas in Haiti, it is being recommended that the Community focus its intervention on adopting at a minimum, a school in Les Cayes and Jeremie and making a contribution to the rehabilitation to include a feeding programme for a maximum of two weeks, catering to the children from those two schools displaced as a result of Matthew,” reported Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Ronald Jackson, who was among the CARICOM contingent.
Given the devastating impacts to particular areas in the SUD (South) department, CARICOM also agreed that attention should be placed on providing support to the severely affected areas of Les Cayes and Jeremie.
To this end, resources are being garnered from member states to provide the needed support to the worst affected population in those two areas for a maximum period of one month.
Specific support from the Community will also include providing emergency supplies such as water, protein, starch, tarpaulin and support for babies.
“The Community has also identified the lack of water supply as a major concern and will further explore among member states and Community institutions options for short-term interventions for providing potable water to the affected areas until water supply systems are brought back online,” added Jackson.
In The Bahamas, where the CDEMA Rapid Needs Assessment Teams (RNATs) were deployed between October 9 and 12, several short, medium and long-term priorities were identified.
“The recommendations for the Caribbean Community support in The Bahamas are in the areas of rapid utility restoration, support for small farmers and fisherfolk and in early recovery assistance for lower income households”, said Jackson.
Just over a week after the powerful Hurricane Matthew devastated the southern peninsula of Haiti, the extent of losses and damage is still being assessed.
Although some reports put the number of dead at over 1,000, the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) said the number of confirmed fatalities stands at 546, with 128 persons still missing and 439 injured. The number of people in shelters remains at 175,509 in all four of Haiti’s Departments.
The NEOC has started compiling a list of needs which includes: water, tarpaulin, hygiene kits, water purification tablets, vector control, bleach and medicines. Priorities for the government remain the distribution of water, food and drugs to people in temporary shelters and the adversely affected communities. The restoration of roads and communications are also a priority.