International donors pleased with Red Cross on Barbuda relief

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Two major international donors to the Barbuda recovery and relief programme are satisfied with how the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross has been managing the programme.
Michael Joseph, president of the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross expressed the view on OBSERVER Radio yesterday.
He said that the European Union and Britain had earmarked about $800,000 in response to a joint appeal from Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Kitts in the immediate wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma but most of the funding was channelled to the Barbuda recovery programme.
Joseph explained that in the normal scheme of things, major donors would visit disaster locations to monitor the progress of relief efforts. To this end, representatives from the British and European assistance programmes as well as the Trinidad based Australian High Commissioner to the Caribbean recently visited Antigua and Barbuda to assess recovery and relief effort in Barbuda.
“They spoke with quite a bit of the beneficiaries and they, themselves were pleased with the work that we’ve been doing. They’ve asked to give surveys, to give feedback and many of the feedback we’ve been getting from the Barbudans were very, very positive.”
The local Red Cross president added that the Australian ambassador expressed the desire to see more Barbudans return home. Joseph, however, pointed out that the ambassador was appreciative of the challenges such as inadequate potable water and banking facilities on the island.
According to Joseph, the funding was supposed to end at the end of March but the donors have agreed to extend the timeline.
He also disclosed that the Red Cross has an on-going beneficiary registration to help in the distribution of relief.
“Up until Friday of last week we had over 400 registered head of households that have gone back to Barbuda,” Joseph said as he explained that the figure does not necessarily mean that those people have permanently returned since they could be commuting, “going back on weekends.”
Stressing that the figure is primarily to inform the organisation how many people it has to help, the Red Cross president said that some people may return for the weekend and need water while others might be there for a longer period and need more relief assistance.
With respect to the rate of the recovery exercise, Joseph said “the pace is picking up in 2018 more than it was in 2017.”
Recalling that the damage wrought by Irma was unprecedented and “caught everybody off guard,” he said that greater numbers of Barbudans are returning to the island, more houses are being repaired and with assistance being given to fishermen, they are getting back into fishing.
He said the desire is for Barbuda to be back to pre Irma conditions by the end of the year “but the reality is [that] disasters throw you back five, ten years. So, we do have an appreciation for what all the agencies have been doing and everybody at this point in time to get it to where it is. So, we think that we are at a good place right now. So, it’s just to keep the momentum going.”

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