Anguilla Still Waiting for Irma Hurricane Aid as a New Hurricane Season Approaches

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by Dan Ehrlich

In the UK much of the Commonwealth Conference talk has been of the bureaucratic insensitive indifference to the citizenship status of the Afro-Caribbean residents of Britain. Yet, back in the Caribbean the same bureaucracy has been hindering hurricane relief in UK territories such as the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla.

The next hurricane season is only two months away and due to what Anguilla Chief Minister Victor Banks calls “British foot dragging” the massive repairs needed on his UK territory are still unrepaired.

So, as CARICOM chiefs protest the current ill treatment of Caribbean immigrants to Britain, British citizens in the Caribbean are being given the run around in a chase for hurricane reconstruction aid.

We still haven’t received the grant promised us by Prime Minister Theresa May…but we are hopeful. We have friends in London helping us.”

Anguilla, a British territory for more than 300 years, with a population that are all British citizens was badly hit by Hurricane Irma. This prompted UK Prime Minister May to offer Anguilla a 60 million pound ($100 million) reconstruction grant.

Yet, instead of being sent the money, Banks received a letter saying the money would only be sent if the island could produce a balanced budget.

Banks expressed his amazement at this Catch 22 situation, especially with the prospect of another disastrous hurricane season on the horizon. “We need to make repairs as soon as possible,” he said, referring to the coming 2018 storm season.

Although some opportunities have arisen from the restoration of the tourism sector and the initial ‘clean up’ operation, the situation remains challenging.  With our main access hubs still in a state of serious disrepair and with the existence of fierce competition in the tourism sector within the Caribbean; Anguilla’s main economic driver still has some distance to go before normality is restored.

It is against this sordid backdrop, that we are seeking the approval of Anguilla’s 2018 Budget and the release of the £60 million recovery funds committed by Prime Minister Theresa May last November when I met with her at 10 Downing Street,” Banks said.

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