OECS Heads in solidarity with St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia

Collapsed Bridge In Saint Lucia During Hurricane Tomas

OECS Secretariat, Castries, St. Lucia, November 9, 2010 – The Heads of Government of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) met in emergency session on Friday 5th November via video conference to receive reports from the two Member States that had been impacted by the passage of Hurricane Tomas.

The OECS Authority extended its profound sympathy to the people of Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines who were and continue to be so severely affected by Hurricane Tomas. The Authority was particularly saddened by the loss of life in Saint Lucia and wished to express sincere condolences to the families of those who perished in this disaster.

The Authority recognised that this disaster has struck the region during an already challenging period, given the significant toll that the global financial crisis has taken on OECS Member States, with regional GDP having contracted by 7.9% last year and projected to contract by an additional 3% this year. The Authority also noted the significant impact of Hurricane Tomas on two of the major pillars of the regional economy – tourism and agriculture.

Banana crop in St. Vincent and the Grenadines surrender to Hurricane Tomas

The overall impact on the regional economy this year, will exacerbate an already depressed period. In order to assist in expediting recovery, the OECS Authority mandated the OECS Secretariat to engage immediately with the international development partner community to mobilize all available resources in support of efforts already underway in the two Member States, and the OECS Heads of Government pledged to provide whatever support possible to the governments and people of Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines during this very difficult and traumatic period.

The OECS Authority has also agreed to give active consideration to engaging a team from the United Nations system to conduct macro socio-economic disaster impact assessments in Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. These assessments compute the indirect and direct effects and impacts of extreme events on the short, medium and long term economic performance of countries and form important platforms from which to engage the international community in dialogue on the long term support vital for the reconstruction of the two affected OECS countries. Such an assessment had previously played a critical role in setting the stage for a series of international development partner and donor conferences which provided invaluable financial support to the extensive rehabilitation efforts in Grenada, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan.

OECS Chairman PM Of St. Kitts Nevis Hon. DR. Denzil Douglas

The OECS Secretariat will coordinate these efforts on behalf of its member states and form a counterpart Team comprising of OECS as well as Government officials from both affected countries.

The Authority acknowledged that the devastation caused by Hurricane Tomas extended beyond the OECS and therefore expressed solidarity with the Governments and people of the sister islands of Barbados and Haiti, which also were impacted by Hurricane Tomas.

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