GRAND CAYMAN, Cayman Islands – The Cayman Islands Government’s work with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to help provide needed security and humanitarian assistance to sister British Overseas Territories is paying off.
United Kingdom Foreign Minister Boris Johnson landed on Anguilla Tuesday afternoon as a Cayman Islands Government chartered Cayman Airways jet was leaving the island after delivering medical teams, medicines and other needed supplies.
Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos, all British Overseas Territories, were ravaged by Hurricane Irma this past week.
The Cayman Islands was the only British OT that did not suffer from the storm. Anguilla suffered extensive damage, and at least one person there has been confirmed dead.
Cayman Islands Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin applauded the arrival of Mr. Johnson, saying the urgency shone by the Foreign Minister’s visit to Anguilla demonstrates a new commitment to the Overseas Territories.
“The UK has responded this time in a way that I haven’t known them to respond in the years since I have been in government,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “The fact that they sent the Foreign Minister out to the Overseas Territories is intended as a clear signal of their commitment in assisting with the recovery effort.”
The Cayman Airways 737-300 jet left Cayman Tuesday afternoon loaded with two doctors, six nurses, one paramedic, and almost 16,000 pounds of needed medicines and medical supplies and other critical donations to make the two-and-a-half hour trip to Anguilla.
The medical staff will stay on Anguilla for two weeks before being retrieved and replaced via another Government chartered Cayman Airways flight.
Health Services Authority Director Lizette Yearwood said the medical staff will deal with normal maladies that come from rebuilding after a storm, such as lacerations, puncture wounds and trauma.
“We sent about 15 pallets of medical supplies that were donated by the HSA, Health City and CTMH Doctors Hospital,” she said.
The Cayman Airways flight also returned with a person that was in dire need of medical assistance that could not be provided in Anguilla.
Deputy Premier and Minister with responsibility for Cayman Airways Hon. Moses Kirkconnell said the humanitarian mission shows once more the importance of Cayman’s national airline.
“Cayman Airways is not only important to us as our national carrier, but it is also an asset to the region, especially in times like these when our neighbours need help in any form,” said Mr. Kirkconnell. “The airline has been used many times for charity work and we will continue to celebrate Cayman Airways as a major contributor to our economy, our country and our region.”
Anguilla Governor HE Tim Foy said the aid from the Cayman Islands Government is important because his island was badly damaged in Irma.
“The aid shows fellowship and support of fellow overseas territories. This very big gift has a real value when it comes to those close to you,” Mr. Foy said.
Chief Minister of Anguilla Hon. Victor Banks echoed the Governor’s sentiments, saying it is important for the British Overseas Territories to show solidarity.
Mr. McLaughlin said the bond formed with fellow Overseas Territories government officials through Joint Ministerial Council meetings was instrumental in allowing the aid package from Cayman be assembled and delivered so quickly.
“I have said it before and it bears repeating; we and our sister British Overseas Territories are British people,” he said. “We are not residing in some foreign land. The British Overseas Territories have been owned by Britain for hundreds of years.”
“We who went through Hurricane Ivan some 13 years ago and then Hurricane Paloma nine years ago know well the feeling of absolute despair and isolation that follows a major destructive event like the passage of Hurricane Irma,” he said. “Cayman is in a wonderful place to be able to assist our brothers and sisters in the British Overseas Territories and I am delighted we have risen to that cause.”