Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States, Sir Ronald Sanders, today lamented the slow response by big countries and international institutions to the recovery and rebuilding of the island of Barbuda which was decimated by Hurricane Irma on September 6.
The Ambassador was speaking on the occasion of a donation to the Barbuda relief process by the staff of the Organisation of American States (OAS). The Staff Association President, Steve Griner, visited the country’s Embassy to present Ambassador Sanders with a cheque for US$2,135.37.
Griner explained that although the money was small in relation to Barbuda’s needs, it was the largest sum ever given by the OAS staff to a member state. He said it was an expression of the great sympathy that the Organisation’s staff felt for the people of Barbuda and their wish to help the Antigua and Barbuda government with the mammoth task ahead.
In responding, Ambassador Sanders thanked the OAS staff for their generosity. He said that their contribution was a big sacrifice for them and, in that connection, their donation was even more greatly appreciated. “The generous contribution of the workers at the OAS puts to shame the slow response by rich governments and international agencies which are yet to make a meaningful contribution to the relief and reconstruction of Barbuda. Some have offered paltry sums, and others have been completely silent.”
“Yet it is the big countries that are greatest contributors to Global Warming that creates monstrous hurricanes. Their profligacy makes small states, such as Antigua and Barbuda, big victims. In this connection, we simply want them to help repair the destruction of our countries that is not due to any actions we have taken, but to their harmful activities”.
Sir Ronald said apart from China and Venezuela, “no other big nation has yet made a significant contribution to the challenges facing the government of Antigua and Barbuda in coping with the additional burden placed upon it by the damage to Barbuda and the displacement of the people”. He remained hopeful that in the coming weeks, governments, international agencies, and big private sector companies will come together to provide a Fund from which countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and others can draw so as to finance reconstruction that will be resilient to future storms”.
He revealed that there is an initiative to create interest in and commitment to such a Fund.