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JAMAICA | Gov't airlifts nationals trapped in hurricane ravaged countries

Featured Prime Minister Andrew Holness Prime Minister Andrew Holness
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Sept 29, CMC – The Jamaica government says it spent in excess of J$50 million (One Jamaica dollar =US$0.004 cents) in bringing home all nationals who requested evacuation assistance from hurricane-ravaged Eastern Caribbean islands.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness told legislators that  200 Jamaicans were brought home from the affected territories where they were based, including the Turks and Caicos, and the British Virgin Islands, at a cost of J$50 million.

But, Holness said several persons opted to remain in those countries to assist with recovery and rebuilding efforts, citing the gesture as “commendable” and reflective of the “Jamaican spirit”.

Andrew Holl

He told Parliament that they have, however, sent their children back to Jamaica to continue their education, consequent on the resulting disruption in the education system.

Holness also disclosed that the government is exploring what additional assistance can be extended to affected Eastern Caribbean islands, particularly Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica, for which Jamaica has already committed financial resources and personnel to assist with recovery and rebuilding efforts.

Holness responding to a question from one legislator, Dr. Morais Guy, had cited the provision of accommodation and educational support services for students whose schools have a similar curriculum to Jamaica’s, particularly those preparing for the 2017/18 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).

Holness said that he had held discussions with Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit and that the government will explore the possibility of completing a bridge, construction of which the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) commenced following extensive flood rains previously impacting that island.

“My understanding is that we went, did some assessments and started (work), but did not complete it,” he said.

Holness said the government will determine whether the JDF’s 120-man Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), being deployed to Dominica in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria following Prime Minister Skerrit’s request for support, can assist with that and other infrastructure repairs after assessments of damage and dislocation sustained are completed.

The DART’s deployment is among the assistance which Prime Minister Holness advised the House that the government has committed to Dominica’s recovery efforts.

He indicated that the deployment is being done in three phases, with the first team having been dispatched on September 26. The team will be assisting with security and distribution of relief supplies; the provision of limited medical care; conducting damage assessments; recovery planning; basic engineering work; and logistics management.

Additionally, Holness said the government has committed to providing Dominica with a four-man technical and advisory support team to be led by the JDF’s Colonel, Jamie Ogilvie.

This intervention, he said, is intended to assist with efforts to restore the integrity of Dominica’s national security systems and develop a plan for the recovery and rebuilding of that nation.

Jamaica has also committed the equivalent of US$100,000 each to the redevelopment funds for Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica.

“We again extend our sympathies to all countries that were impacted by what has been described as the ‘ferocity and brutality’ of these recent hurricanes, which left a trail of destruction never before seen in the Caribbean. I have great confidence that, as a region, we will rebuild and not just replicate what was there before,” he said.