CARICOM extends funding for relief team in Haiti

KINGSTON, Jamaica: The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has committed to financing the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) relief base in Haiti for another month before the regional grouping shifts its focus to recovery interventions and longer term contributions.

The additional funding, which will run until March 5, will come from the government of the Bahamas.

The assurance was given last weekend, after the government of Jamaica first announced its pullout and less than 24 hours later a suspension of the withdrawal, citing mounting bills and lack of financial support.

Two days after the January 12 7.0-magnitude earthquake, Jamaica established a military base facilitating troops and health workers from that country and other CARICOM nations. The government received J$10 million (US$112,739) reimbursement from CARICOM last week with the assurance that an additional J$30 million (US$ 338,218) was on the way.

CARICOM Chairman and Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerritt, commended members of the JDF for the role that they have played so far in Haiti, noting that at an appropriate time, CARICOM will formally recognize their contribution.

Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Jeremy Collymore, said that by March 5, the framework and action for the longer term commitment in Haiti will be well underway.

“At that time the focus will be shifted from relief and emergency care to looking at some recovery interventions and longer term contributions, commitments and solutions, such as health interventions,” said Collymore.

As a result of the assistance provided by CARICOM in Haiti so far, more than 3,000 persons have been given first treatment by doctors, with several repeats; there have been more than 200 major operations; 15 search and rescue missions; and the moving of 95 tons of tinned food, 41 tons of water and four tons of medical supplies.

In addition, Collymore said approximately 40 containers of food supplies, which have been collected from across the Caribbean through national and civil society coordination, would be sent to Haiti.

“One key area of the support to Haiti that we think is making a difference is the technical assistance in helping to establish a relief distribution system. There will be house management, as well as guidelines for the many camps that have been established. In fact, that has allowed the government of Haiti to now say to the international donors that they want them to respond to their priorities, because they now have the technical capacity,” said Collymore.

Collymore stressed the importance of accommodations, noting that tents have been organized to provide shelter for 5,000 people. According to Collymore, the tents should be ready for occupation next week.

 

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