It is with deep sadness that I extend my sympathy and condolences to the families of those who lost their lives during the passage of Hurricane Matthew. I also empathize with the thousands who have lost their homes and property on account of the storm.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) expresses its solidarity with the governments and people of the many States affected by Hurricane Matthew, a hurricane of exceptional strength, as it swept through the Region. The catastrophic storm has affected our members, from Barbados to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, and Dominica to Haiti, Jamaica, The Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. It has also affected the Cuba and Dominican Republic and left in its wake significant loss of life, property and infrastructure.
To date, Haiti has been the most seriously affected with more than 800 deaths, thousands displaced and widespread flooding and devastation in parts of the country raising concerns about a resurgence of cholera. Moreover, the full scale of fatalities and destruction has not yet been assessed as the isolation of the most affected areas has been exacerbated by the damage of key road and the communications infrastructure.
We are also concerned about reports of extensive damage in The Bahamas.
The CARICOM response is being led by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) which has been working with national relief organisations to assess damage, determine priority needs and provide relief.
The Secretary-General has been in discussions with the leadership of the countries affected as well with the Executive Director of CDEMA as the Community faces this serious and recurring challenge.
The passage of Matthew underlines once again the vulnerability of Caribbean Small Island Developing and Low Lying Coastal States (SIDS) to the vagaries of climate action and the reversals they bring to sustainable development efforts. The early response to the aftermath of Matthew as well as the supportive facility put in place to help resource the required recovery and rebuilding effort also underline the critical importance of the regional institutional frameworks established by the Community, CDEMA and the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) which has already processed payment to two of the affected countries, Barbados and Haiti.
On behalf of the Community, I once again extend heartfelt condolences to the families who lost their loved ones and to the Governments and peoples of the affected countries. They can be assured that CARICOM is fully engaged in assisting their recovery and rebuilding efforts.