Friday, November 24, 2017

The Storm-Ravaged Caribbean Just Got $2 Billion to Rebuild.  But Is that Enough Money?

Aerial view of the devastation in Dominica following category five Hurricane Maria in September 2017. (Credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas) Click to Enlarge.
The international community is pledging over $2 billion, almost half in loans and debt relief, to help rebuild the Caribbean islands decimated by this year’s string of hurricanes.

Made during a one-day United Nations and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) conference in New York, the pledges came from some familiar donors and some surprising new ones.  They included The Netherlands’ $700 million pledge, the European Union’s $352 million, quake-recovering Mexico’s $27 million and $1 million in debt forgiveness from politically troubled Venezuela.

The two biggest surprises, however, came from the United States and Haiti, members said.

The U.S., long a leading donor and supporter of the region, pledged just $4.3 million, far less than Canada’s $78 million or China’s $30 million.  Haiti, still recovering from its own 2010 earthquake and brushes with two hurricanes, offered up $250,000.

“We are very touched by the contribution made by Haiti,” said Roosevelt Skerrit, prime minister of hurricane-devastated Dominica.

Skerrit acknowledged that the amount raised at the conference is far less than the $5 billion-plus the United Nations says is needed for the Caribbean to rebuild following the one-two punch of Irma and Maria within a two-week span in September.  But he welcomed what he called “the first effort.”

“I am very satisfied,” said Skerrit, who added that he hopes continued lobbying and engagement with donors will yield more contributions.

According to the latest post-Irma assessment, Dominica’s hurricane damage is at $1.3 billion, which is about the amount donors pledged in grants.  Hurricane Maria, which struck the island after Irma, decimated decades of development gains there and damaged 60 percent of its housing and infrastructure.

During a visit by United Nations General Secretary António Guterres to Dominica in October, Skerrit declared his intention to transform the once lush green island into the “world’s first climate-resistant nation.”

Read more at The Storm-Ravaged Caribbean Just Got $2 Billion to Rebuild.  But Is that Enough Money?

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