RCS Caribbean Response - October 2017
Report from Cheryll Belle, Chair of RCS Barbados Branch and RCS Regional Co-ordinator, Caribbean.
The Caribbean islands that are affected badly and are members of the Commonwealth are Barbuda, which is part of Antigua and Dominica. CARICOM member states have already rallied to the cause by seeking assistance from international governments and are focussing on the raising of funds to assist in the reconstruction of government buildings and facilities as well as for the reconstruction of individual homes which have been destroyed. The governments of Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, St. Lucia and some of the other islands have offered to admit homeless individuals from Dominica to their countries for a six month period while those evacuated from Barbuda are supported in Antigua.
The government of Barbados has provided troops to assist the Dominica Police, medical personnel, artisans and ships available to transport items which have been donated to the cause and these vessels travel back and forth carrying personnel and items of equipment collected. Other unaffected islands have also contributed and deliveries are being sent through the Barbados Coast Guard. The Regional Security System which consists of seven island states has been mobilised and is present in the affected islands at this time.
With respect to British Territories and other territories, it is our understanding that the mother country is providing needed assistance. As for participation by The Royal Commonwealth Society on a regional basis, I believe that we can approach the governments concerned to notify our interest in participating but it is believed that an overwhelming effort is being made by donors to contribute food, water and other commodities.
The RCS Barbados Branch, the only operating branch of the RCS in the Eastern Caribbean, is raising funds in support of relief efforts for Dominica. The funds raised will be used for Dominica by providing furniture, books, computers and equipment for schools once the buildings have been reconstructed. If all goes according to plan we hope that some of the schools will be ready to reopen for the January term.
RCS Regional Co-ordinator for Canada, Judith Elson, is joining with us to focus on fundraising and has written to rally the Canadian branches to fundraise and pool resources.
Meanwhile, Indera Persaud, Chair of RCS Jamaica branch is already partnering with the Guyana Consul to send water and food to the affected islands.
The Territories which are referred to do not include the independent islands of CARICOM. There are British Territories, Dutch Territories and French Territories. The islands that are affected are either being dealt with by the British, Dutch or French Governments.