Focus on Haiti as CARICOM Chairman, new Secretary- General plan for the future

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There will be an increased focus emanating from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to help address the needs of Haiti, the region’s most populated country.

This is according to Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne. He was speaking at the virtual installation ceremony of the eighth Secretary-General of CARICOM Dr. Carla Barnett on Monday.

At the weekend, an earthquake struck southwestern Haiti and reports from Reuters indicate that the death toll has surged to more than 1,900 people- with people still missing or trapped under rubble.

Further, Reuters reported that about 9,915 people are injured and in need of medical care.

A collapsed building in Haiti (Photo: Twitter/ Jose Flécher/ August 14, 2021)

This earthquake is only the most recent catastrophe to strike the country; only last month was the country into political turmoil due to the assassination of its President Jovenel Moise. In 2010, a devastating earthquake claimed the lives of some 230,000 people and resulted in grave damage.

These events are still only recent events that add to the devastation the country has faced since it became the first independent nation in the Caribbean in 1804, following the successful revolution of enslaved people.

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne

And, on Monday, Prime Minister Browne said, “… I believe the time has come to change the trajectory of Haiti and we must establish measures in collaboration with Haiti’s political directorate and international community that will allow Haiti to make a fundamental change in direction.”

But he described this as a longer term goal and instead remarked that the community would have to focus on meeting the immediate, post- disaster needs of the country. His sentiments were echoed by Dr. Barnett.

On Monday, Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips announced that a humanitarian account with Republic Bank (Guyana) Limited, in the name of the Civil Defence Commission, was launched for Haiti.

CARICOM is expected to coordinate relief efforts for the country.

“Haiti can be assured that the community will do all that it can to assist in this time of national crisis,” Dr. Barnett stated.

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