Humanitarian crisis developing on Antigua – PM Browne

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A humanitarian crisis is developing on Antigua as a result of the devastation wreaked on Barbuda by Hurricane Irma, according to Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
“Overnight Antigua’s population increased by almost three percent. I know of no country that could easily cope with such an unplanned, unexpected and unscheduled increase in its population,” the PM said in his address on Thursday at the UN General Assembly.
In highlighting the disaster, Browne relayed that in addition to providing shelter, accommodation and basic necessities to the evacuated residents of Barbuda, the social services on Antigua are “under great strain” to provide school places for an additional 600 children; medical services for the elderly; and a means of income for the able-bodied.
According to the PM, preliminary estimates placed the cost of rebuilding Barbuda at about U.S. $250 million, which represented more than 15 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. “It is simply a stretch beyond our reach,” Browne said.
“Barbuda is not only a natural disaster; it is a humanitarian crisis that now consumes Antigua,” the prime minister declared. “On Antigua, Barbudans are being cared for as best we can with very limited resources. But as the period of cares lengthens, not only do the conditions worsen, but the cost increases, causing my government to borrow money on commercial terms at high interest rates, swelling our already burdensome national debt.”
Noting that Barbudans were anxious to return home, Browne pointed out that the island remains unfit for human habitation.
“There is no electricity, no potable water, and 95 per cent of the buildings have been destroyed or severely damaged.  
The prime minister also acknowledged the assistance received from several countries including Venezuela, China, Canada, Dominica and other CARICOM states.

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