US describes first working group of US-Caribbean Resilience Partnership as 'successful'

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US describes first working group of US-Caribbean Resilience Partnership as 'successful'

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

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WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) – The United States has described as “successful” the first working group of the US-Caribbean Resilience Partnership that was held in Barbados earlier this month.

The US State Department said that the meeting, which was attended by representatives from 18 Caribbean countries, the Caribbean Disaster Management Agency (CDMA) as well as the Eastern Caribbean Regional Security System, universities and non-government organisations, concluded with US$9.5 million in disaster resilience funding for the region.

“The partnership employed a whole-of-society approach, involving the private sector, non-governmental organisations and academia to achieve shared goals,” the State Department said in a statement.

It said the meeting also discussed plans to improve resilience under new initiatives launched by the United States, including US$5 million in funding for a Caribbean-wide energy initiative “one benefit of which will be to reduce electricity outages resulting from the impacts of hurricanes and floods”.

The State Department said Washington will also be providing US$1.5 million to support the implementation of the US-Caribbean Resilience Partnership.

It said this funding will support technical exchanges and consultations between US interagency resilience experts, ministries and disaster management officials from the Caribbean region.

The US will provide US$2 million “to improve the ability of Caribbean partners to prepare for and mitigate the effects of disasters,” and US$1 million for small grants for civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for enhancing community-led disaster resilience in the Eastern Caribbean.

In the “Caribbean 2020: A Multi-Year Strategy To Increase the Security, Prosperity, and Well-Being of the People of the United States and the Caribbean,” the State Department noted that the Caribbean region is the United States' “third border,” characterised by “common interests and societal ties that yield daily, tangible benefits for US citizens.”

The report notes the United States is the primary trading partner for the Caribbean, representing a “vibrant economic partnership that in 2016 saw a US$4.6 billion trade surplus for the United States, 14 million US tourist visits, and 11,042 Caribbean students studying in the United States.

“We also face many common threats across the region,” it adds, stating that “small but significant, numbers of violent extremists from the region have joined ISIS.”

The report says that Caribbean countries have “some of the highest murder rates in the world,” pointing out that “rising crime and endemic corruption threaten governments' ability to provide security and good governance.”

“They also drive irregular migration to the United State. As the United States works to secure its southern border, we should prepare for transnational criminal organisations to shift more of their operations to the Caribbean as a transit point for drugs, migrants, weapons, and other illicit activity.”

The report notes that in partnership with Caribbean governments, Washington said it will strengthen “our mutual national security and advance the safety of our citizens by pursuing programs to dismantle transnational criminal and terrorist organisations, curb the trafficking and smuggling of illicit goods and people, strengthen the rule of law, improve citizen security, and counter vulnerability to terrorist threats.”

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