FOREIGN and Caricom Affairs Minister Dennis Moses has expressed condolences to the people of The Bahamas after the devastation of Hurricane Dorian on September 1.
He was speaking on Friday at the 22nd Intersessional Preparatory Meeting for the 25th Ordinary Meeting of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) Ministerial Council held at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain.
The hurricane caused an estimated US $7 billion in damage and killed at least 64 people, 11 on Grand Bahama and 54 on the Abaco islands.
Moses said he was pleased to note that Grand Bahama island was back to business and was welcoming travellers and cruise ships. He added, however, Abaco islands had particular difficulties.
"In time, it too will rebound."
TT has donated US$500,000 to the Bahamian government towards the cost of medicine and other emergency supplies and sent a 100-strong contingent of soldiers, sailors, airmen and T&TEC technicians which provided aid to the civil powers by securing spaces, being involved in the distribution of relief supplies, and an assessment of the levels of damage to assist the Government in its efforts to rebuild. The contingent spent a month and returned in early October.
Moses also spoke of the ACS's commitment to tackle climate change. He said the challenges of climate change were becoming more apparent and there were incidents of extreme weather events affecting small island developing states.
On the Caribbean Sea Moses said there is a need to promote the principle of integrated management. He said the threats to the sustainability of the Caribbean Seas included sargassum, the invasive lion fish and coastal erosion.
He congratulated Barbados on the tremendous effort put forth in assuming chairmanship of the ministerial council. He said he was confident of Barbados' ability to steer the organisation forward. He also congratulated ACS on the 25th anniversary of its establishment.
ACS secretary general Dr June Soomer said the meeting took place just over a month after the global community gathered in New York to review global commitments as it regards addressing the threats posed by climate change, financing development and advancing the small island developing states agenda as outlined in the SAMOA (Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action) pathway.
She said the charged agenda of this high level meeting spans administration, technical and political matters, from budget and staffing issues, to project updates, financial regulations and applications for membership. She added it required and will receive consultation in the spirit of cooperation and with a view to concerted action.
"The sustainable development of the Greater Caribbean, the preservation and protection of our Caribbean Sea and the civilisation that it cradles, demands nothing less. As we advance through this agenda, I will urge only that in all our discussions, we guard foremost in our minds our collective responsibility to take decisions that do not render even more precarious the situations of those in our societies who are already vulnerable. Moreso, I challenge us to take decisions that reduce their vulnerabilities that much more. To be inclusive, progressive, creative, and bold on their behalf. Only then can this greater Caribbean civilisation be the greatest it can be."
The ACS ordinary meeting will be held in Barbados in March.