CARICOM Secretariat, Guyana – Even as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is deeply saddened by the devastation in Haiti, it is continuing to ensure that all efforts are made to render assistance in the earthquake torn nation.
The CARICOM Secretariat hosted a special briefing linking the regional media via video conference at its Georgetown, Guyana headquarters on Friday January 22, 2010. The media briefing was convened to update the Region on the Community’s coordinated response to the Haitian disaster.
Apprising the media on the CARICOM relief efforts were: His Excellency Edwin Carrington, CARICOM Secretary-General; Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite, Deputy Secretary-General; Ambassador Colin Granderson, Assistant Secretary-General, Foreign and Community Relations; Mr. Jeremy Collymore, Executive Director, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA); and Ms Lynne Williams, Executive Director, CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS).
Secretary-General Carrington, who has just returned to Guyana after a series of consultations on Haiti, said that it was a “sad time for the Community.”
At this time when the eyes of the Caribbean and the world were upon the most recent Member State of CARICOM, he said that the Community was “putting its best foot forward” in the search, rescue, relief, recovery, reconstruction missions.
The Secretary-General noted that the first phase of the disaster response has been the “most challenging” due to the magnitude of the January 12 earthquake which shocked Haiti and the rest of the world.
He added that this disaster response called for concerted planning in terms of “effective communication, respect for communities, cultures, logistics, policing, security and safety” as well as the management of all of the above.
“Even for the most prepared and equipped, it takes time for the most experienced and globally designated response to establish coordination mechanisms on the ground,” Mr Carrington stated.
Outlining what he described as CARICOM’s “multi-pronged” approach to the Haitian disaster relief, he stated that soon after the earthquake struck; the Community was thrown into action, beginning with a public statement expressing its “distress” at the destruction wrought by the series of earthquakes which rocked its French Speaking Member State.
As the world awoke to the scale of the devastation on Wednesday January 13, Secretary-General Carrington said that there was a rapid response from Jamaica- CDEMA’s Focal Point for the Sub-Region- in the form of a deployment of defence and medical personnel with supplies. A medical facility was established once Jamaica was on the ground in Haiti.
Meanwhile, the Secretary-General stated there were consistent consultations among CARICOM Heads of Government, CDEMA and other regional officials on the situation.
Against that backdrop, Mr. Carrington said that the Community had prioritised its assistance to Haiti in the area of health, though it would continue to render support in other areas. At the time of the Media Briefing, Chief Medical Officers and representatives of regional institutions were meeting at the headquarters of the CDEMA in Bridgetown, Barbados to conclude a draft plan for the Community’s continued Health Intervention in Haiti.
Secretary-General Carrington informed the regional media that CARICOM had collaborated with the international community in the Haitian relief and reconstruction efforts. The Community was appointed as a member of the Coordination Committee on an International Conference on Haiti and the first meeting of that committee will take place in Montreal, Canada on Monday January 25, 2010.
That committee was created at a meeting initiated by the President of Dominica on January 18, involving the United Nations, the European Union, the Organisation of American States, Mexico, Chile, the United States of America, Canada, Brazil, the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank. Former Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Honourable PJ Patterson has been proposed to lead the Caribbean Community team in that Committee.
The International Conference on Haiti is expected to devise a strategic plan for the reconstruction of the nation. The Plan is expected to go beyond emergency assistance and relief, and it will contribute to the strengthening of the viability, the political, economic, and social stability of Haiti in the medium and long term.