Britain is providing more financial assistance to Antigua and Barbuda, as well as Dominica, to help recovery and long-term reconstruction on the islands following the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September.
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, who accompanied Prince Charles on a visit to the two hurricane-ravaged countries over the weekend, set out a new £15 million (BDS$39 million) package for Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda. Dominica will receive £12 million (BDS$31 million) and Antigua and Barbuda £3 million (Bds$7.9 million).
The visiting British Government official said this was in addition to the £15 million (BDS$39 million) recently allocated to the affected Overseas Territories.
“We can be proud that in their time of crisis the United Kingdom [UK] stepped up to provide the vital immediate relief that was fundamental in getting these islands back on their feet,” said Mordaunt.
“The UK aid mission was huge, covering small islands stretching more than 1,000 miles apart, where buildings, airports and infrastructure had been razed to the ground. I want to pay tribute to the governments of the Overseas Territories, our humanitarian staff and to the military effort, which has been absolutely essential in delivering relief.
“Now as we move on from the immediate response phase, on to the long-term future of the islands, Britain will continue to stand by people whose lives were devastated. We are also talking to the international private sector who can support the reconstruction efforts to make sure the islands can build back, and better,” she added.
The support package, which brings the total UK contribution to £92 million (BDS$243 million), will include £10 million (BDS$26 million) to help Dominica to rebuild critical infrastructure damaged during the hurricanes. The United Kingdom’s contribution to Dominica also includes an additional two million pounds for early recovery, building on the five million pounds committed in September.
The UK government said that for Antigua and Barbuda, it stood ready to assist with a £3 million fund, which is to be deployed once the priorities for reconstruction on Barbuda are agreed with the local government.
For the Overseas Territories of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos, the £15 million is delivering accelerated power reconnection and support to prisons, repairs to air and seaports and support for policing. This is short-term funding to aid the territories’ early steps to recovery.
During his whirlwind visit, the Prince of Wales described the destruction caused by Caribbean hurricanes as “utterly heartbreaking”.
After meeting homeless families in Antigua, he said it was “painful beyond words to see the devastation”.
In Dominica, Prince Charles praised the “resilience” of citizens.
In Pichelin village, which was battered by torrential flooding and high winds back in September, he told residents trying to rebuild their lives to “hold on”.
He walked through the village shaking the hands of citizens, stopping to chat and even watched a dance performance by local school children.
Dominican Marilyn Leatham said the royal visit lifted her spirits.
“The Prince told me ‘you’re resilient people – hold on’. It means the world to us to have him here and it means the world is thinking of us,” she said.
Prince Charles said his visit was to show the Commonwealth’s support for people who had suffered as a result of the hurricanes and to thank aid and rescue workers who were supporting them.
He stressed that the recent events in the Caribbean had helped to underline the importance of the Commonwealth as a family, whose members care deeply for each other in times of need.”