Washington, DC, 20 August…  The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) says “there is an urgent need for the entire global community to respond swiftly and meaningfully to the dire situation of the Haitian people within a framework of transparency and accountability”

This observation was made today at the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington DC at a meeting of the Permanent Council of the organization.

Speaking on behalf of the CARICOM Group at the OAS, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador, Sir Ronald Sanders, said: “We in CARICOM, urge international development and finance institutions and governments to help to the fullest extent of their capabilities, making sure that assistance is provided to the needy and vulnerable in a fair and equitable manner”,

Sir Ronald, who is also the Chair of the CARICOM group at the OAS, spoke after the members of the Council had heard from the Prime Minister of Haiti, Ariel Henry, an account of conditions following an earthquake on August 14 that killed almost 2,000 people, injured 10,000 and left about 40,000 homeless.

Speaking for the CARICOM countries, Ambassador Sanders said: “We are greatly troubled that the misery caused by this disaster was intensified by tropical storm, Grace, which generated widespread flooding and landslides.  When this double calamity occurred over the last few days in Haiti, the country was already confronting a humanitarian crisis, including a grave strain on its medical facilities that were overwhelmed by several essential demands, including coping with the COVID-19 pandemic”.

The Antigua and Barbuda diplomat outlined steps that CARICOM has already taken to aid Haiti.  He disclosed that the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) agreed to pay out $40 million to Haiti with the first instalment of $15 million  being paid to the government early next week, and the remaining $25 million being delivered within the next 14-days.

He also stated that “it is significant that this current payment to Haiti represents the largest one-time payment from CCRIF to date.  It should also be noted that, since its inception in 2007, CCRIF has made five payments to Haiti, in the sum of $78.3 million or 32%  – the largest single portion of the benefits paid out to its 22 subscribing states”.

Ambassador Sanders revealed that the Caribbean Development Bank has given support to Haiti by paying, in whole or in part, Haiti’s insurance premiums for earthquakes, tropical cyclones, and excessive precipitation.

The OAS Permanent Council was also informed that the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) is deploying a team to provide operational support to the National Emergency Operations Centre in Port-Au-Prince, and that several organs of CDEMA are alert and activated, awaiting indications from Haitian authorities that they are ready to receive teams of specialist relief groups.

Concluding that “CARICOM is doing all in its power with its limited resources to respond to the crucial emergency needs of the Haitian people”, Ambassador Sanders called on the international development and financial banks and wealthy governments “to turn  words to action”.    “The Hatian people”, he said “ have suffered enough”.