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UN secretary general says Dominica decimation at hands of Hurricane Maria 'dramatic'

Sunday, October 08, 2017

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ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC) — United Nations Secretary General António Guterres described as “dramatic”, the devastation of Dominica following the passage of Hurricane Maria on September 18.

Speaking at press conference in Dominica on Sunday, Guterres noted that every community felt the impact of the powerful category 5 storm.

“I have never seen anywhere else in the world – a forest completely decimated without one single leaf on any three and even if I have come from Barbuda, where most of the houses were destroyed, Barbuda is a small island linked to Antigua – and Antigua can support Barbuda But your country, it's the whole country that has been decimated and its in every community . I've seen most of the buildings destroyed or heavily damaged.”

However, the UN Secretary General, also said he was also impressed by the resilience of the people.

“I was impressed by the effective response that your government and your people, was able to put together. A response that allows what I see today to be very different from what we could see immediately after the hurricane.”

Guterres, reiterated the need for the International community to recognise that the intensity of hurricanes is linked to climate change.

“The intensity of hurricanes in this season is not an accident, it is as a result of climate change. Sometimes people say “we always have hurricanes” – it is true , but what we have never had is the intensity, the frequency and the devastating impact.”

He pointed to scientific proof of the link between climate change and the intensity of hurricanes in the Caribbean.

“It is clear that the level of support that Dominica requires cannot be achieved through the traditional instruments. Even if Dominica is a middle income country – it is a middle income country with enormous vulnerability that was proven now in a very dramatic way, there must be a review of the way , middle income countries are supported.”

Guterres said there must be new financial instruments and bonds of different natures as well as several forms of financing for the country to rebuild .

“The United Nations is entirely at your side, we have been cooperating in your efforts with our limited capacity, but I'm proud that my colleagues are doing their best. But our voice will be together with your voice, calling for the world to assume its responsibilities in relation to climate change and for the adequate financial instruments to be created and with easy access for your reconstruction to become a real possibility for the benefit of the people of Dominica.

Guterres's trip forms part of a two-day visit to see the damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

On Saturday, the UN secretary general visited Barbuda, followed by his tour of DOminica where Hurricane Maria ploughed through killed more than two dozen people and left thousands homeless.

For his part, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said Dominica has the “unique opportunity” to show the world how a country rebounds of disaster.

“We can be an example to the world of how an entire nation rebounds of disaster and how and entire nation can be climate resilient for the future. We did not choose this opportunity …having had it thrust upon us, we have chosen to be that example to the world.”

Skerrit said Dominica is on a journey to become the world's first climate resistant nation in the climate change era.

“I see an important role for the United Nations in guiding us with good analysis on how to achieve and monitor national climate resilience. And we know we must do this all in a professional and well governed manner that will encourage the international development agencies to invest their funds….we caution that this is not an academic debate first, it is real and present.”

Skerrit said a critical challenge, is having access to funds and the manifestation on the ground.

“This is one of the message we would like to echo to the international community – that we must work together to overcoming the bureaucratic hurdles in accessing the funds quickly,” the prime minister said.

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