Caribbean Nations must work together to face Natural Disasters

Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson has reiterated the government’s appreciation to the Organization of American States (OAS) for its financial contribution of US$25,000 to Jamaica and other Caribbean nations towards recovery efforts, following Hurricane Ivan last September.

He also commended the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) for the donation of the relief supplies, which were shipped to Jamaica in collaboration with Chevron Texaco.

“Once again, the vulnerability of the small states of the Caribbean region to natural disasters was devastatingly brought to the fore. Hurricane Ivan left a path of destruction across the island of Grenada. Hurricane Frances wrought extensive to the islands of the Bahamas, and Tropical Storm Jeanne caused severe flooding in Haiti. Early this year Guyana suffered a massive flooding disaster caused by unseasonably high levels of rainfall,” Prime Minister Patterson stated.

He stressed that disaster preparedness and management must be guided by the collective responsibilities of member states to work together to assist their respective citizens and to rebuild their countries, as natural disasters did not discriminate.

Mr. Patterson was addressing the closing session of the first Caribbean Meeting of the Inter American Forum on Political Parties at the Half Moon Conference Centre in Montego Bay on Friday (April 29).

The three-day meeting convened by the Organization of American States (OAS), had some 50 political leaders, civil society representatives and academics from the hemisphere, participating in the examinations of issues related to political challenges in the region, including constitutional reform, economic integration, political developments in Haiti, the role of women and policies to curb poverty, violence and unemployment.

Prime Minister Patterson informed the meeting that in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, Jamaica suffered damage estimated at more than $35 billion, representing almost eight per cent of the country’s GDP.

“The agricultural and housing sectors were the worst affected and over 369,000 persons were directly affected. Thankfully, our well-developed national disaster preparedness and management and management plans helped us to not only ‘weather the storm’ but also to make a quick recovery in a number of vital areas,” he said.

Mr. Patterson added, “I am therefore happy to report that our reconstruction and recovery efforts have progressed satisfactorily, although there are a number of projects particularly in the resettlement of housing residence which are still to be completed and here I would say that the support of our hemispheric partners proved invaluable in our endeavors,” the Prime Minister observed.

He further stressed the important role that political parties must play in the aftermath of natural disasters or emergencies. “Politicians are always greatly maligned, but when disasters strike, their constituents expect them as their representatives to play some part, and yet at the same time, I was determined in our own relief efforts, to make sure that it was not administered on the basis of any partisan political considerations and we therefore devised a response that was quick, adequate and yet devoid of political affiliations,” he told the meeting.

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