(Trinidad Guardian) Prime Minister of Roosevelt Skerrit pleaded with world leaders yesterday to lend military equipment to help rebuild the hurricane ravaged island. He also made an impassioned appeal for them to do more to help vulnerable countries cope with the effects of global warming.
Skerrit addressed the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) 72nd Session in New York. UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres and President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak were present for his address.
On Monday, Dominica had 90 per cent of homes and public buildings, including its main hospital in Roseau and schools completely destroyed by the 160 mph winds of the Category 5 Hurricane Maria. There were 15 confirmed deaths on the island and fears that that toll would rise by today.
Skerrit told the UNGA Dominca has been brought to its knees and they need resources now.
“I call upon those with substantial military capacities to lend us the rescue and rebuilding equipment that may be standing idle waiting for a war. Let Dominica today be that war . . . because currently, our landscape reflects a zone of war,” he said.
“Mr President, we dug graves today in Dominica! We buried loved ones yesterday and I am sure that as I return home tomorrow, we shall discover additional fatalities, as a consequence of this encounter.
“Our homes are flattened! Where there was green there is now only dust and dirt! The desolation is beyond imagination. Mr President, fellow leaders . . . The stars have fallen. Eden is broken! Dominica has come here to declare an international humanitarian emergency.”
Skerrit said the time has come for the international community to make a stand and to decide “whether it will be shoulder to shoulder with those suffering the ravages of climate change worldwide; whether we can mitigate the consequences of unprecedented increases in sea temperatures and levels; whether to help us rebuild sustainable livelihoods; or whether the international community will merely show some pity now, and then flee.”
He noted the success of the COP21 in Paris as a demonstration of the collective political will of member states to take action to combat climate change.
Skerrit said although The Green Climate Fund that was created to assist in putting mitigation measures in place and assist victims of climate change is commendable, “much more must be done to assist countries that continue to bear the brunt of the impact of climate change.”
He said the World Bank facility must be re-capitalized for greater coverage by using already committed funds from the Green Climate Fund.
“This would allow our countries to focus on improving the lives of our people and support the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
“It would allow us to rebuild our nation not as it was but in a manner that is far more capable to meet the realities of rising sea levels and warmer oceans.
“Let us take serious action against the realities of climate change.”