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HomeNewsRegional NewsCARICOM Secretary-General Addresses 51st Anniversary Amidst Hurricane Beryl’s Devastation

CARICOM Secretary-General Addresses 51st Anniversary Amidst Hurricane Beryl’s Devastation

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by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN)—On the Fifty-First Anniversary of the signing of the Original Treaty of Chaguaramas, the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Dr Carla Barnett, delivered a message to citizens across the region. Her address comes as several CARICOM Member States deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl, the earliest recorded Category 5 hurricane in the Caribbean.

Dr Barnett acknowledged the significant damage and disruption caused by the hurricane, which has led to the postponement of the Forty-Seventh Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, originally scheduled to take place in Grenada from July 3-5.

Impact Across Member States

Grenada, including Carriacou and Petit Martinique, has reported near-total destruction of housing and infrastructure. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Union Island, Canouan, Mayreau, and the Tobago Cays have also been severely affected. Barbados has seen significant damage to its fisheries sector, impacting the livelihoods of fisherfolk. Jamaica has experienced infrastructural damage, blocked roads, flooding, and losses in the agriculture and fishing sectors. The impact on the Cayman Islands and Belize is still being assessed as Hurricane Beryl moves across the Yucatan Peninsula.

“This is a challenging start to what is forecast to be a very active hurricane season,” Dr Barnett stated, extending her sympathies to those affected.

Regional Response and Support

Dr Barnett highlighted the regional response, noting CARICOM States’ efforts to support each other. The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), national disaster management agencies, the Regional Security System (RSS), and the CARICOM Private Sector Organization Inc. (CPSO) have been instrumental in coordinating emergency assessments and responses. Dr. Barnett encouraged citizens to assist within their communities, especially the elderly and young.

Climate Change and Global Action

Dr Barnett emphasised the need for global climate action, reiterating CARICOM’s call for adherence to climate change commitments. She noted that rising sea temperatures have intensified storms and threatened marine ecosystems.

“The urgency of keeping 1.5° within reach is clear. Our vulnerable states, which contribute minimally to climate change, continue to bear the disproportionate burden of its consequences,” she stated.

Economic Recovery and Resilience

The region has been recovering economically from the COVID-19 pandemic, but Hurricane Beryl has set back these efforts. Dr Barnett stressed the importance of restoring normalcy and building resilience as the region faces the remainder of the hurricane season.

Affirmation of Solidarity on CARICOM Day

Dr Barnett reaffirmed the community’s commitment to mutual support on CARICOM Day, marking the Fifty-First Anniversary of the Treaty of Chaguaramas. She emphasised that unity and a willingness to assist each other have been integral to the CARICOM integration movement.

“Our objective is constant and clear – together, we will build on the gains of regional integration, address the challenges of recovery and sustainable economic growth and development, and shape an inclusive, resilient, and thriving Community for all,” Dr Barnett concluded.

As CARICOM navigates this challenging period, regional solidarity and cooperation remain crucial.

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