PM pleased with “very successful” talks in Europe

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ROSEAU, Dominica, Oct 30, CMC – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Monday said he held “very successful” talks with European leaders and aid donors, saying there is a “strong commitment” by the international community to help rebuild his island battered by Hurricane Maria last month.
Skerrit, who returned here from Brussels and London over the weekend, told the daily news briefing that Dominicans should walk tall with the knowledge that “one day things must get better”.
Skerrit, said while he would be providing details of the trip overseas during his Independence Day address on Friday, he is “very comforted by the continued demonstration of concern, care and solidarity to Dominica by the international community”.
He said he also met with many officials within the UN system as well as the European Union “and what was important was that there was no rush end meetings.
“People took their time to engage and as a matter of fact many of those meetings I had to call them to an end,” he said, noting that they seemed to be understanding the vision of the government for rebuilding the island that was battered by the Category 5 hurricane when it clammed into the island on September 18, killing at least 28 people and causing millions of dollars in damage.
“I want to say thank you to the European Union and all the wonderful people I met,” Skerrit said, adding “of course I told them I want much more than they are offering and they have given a commitment to go back and look further to see what they could give”.
He said they have also indicated a willingness to attend the international donor’s conference to be held in the United States, November 20-21.
He said on his visit to London he met with government officials and that “I am very grateful to the UK government.
“Prime Minister Theresa May and her cabinet …very very concerned, very committed to working with us …in the circumstances,’ Skerrit said, adding that Dominica must not be unmindful that the donor countries themselves were also facing problems of their own.
He said he had received word that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing an additional US$2.5 million “and we are pushing them for more”.
“Everybody has demonstrated a commitment to helping us and what we intend to do is to share with them our plans, getting them to understand we will need all the money that is available and very critically in a timely and more efficient  fashion,” Skerrit said, praising the Chinese government for their “exceptional” show of support.
He said apart from giving the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) three million US dollars in support for providing roofing for homes, Beijing has also indicated that 300 million RMB (One RMB+0.15 cents) is available.
During his briefing Skerrit urged Dominicans to put aside their differences and work towards the total redevelopment of the island, adding also that Independence Day on Friday, should be used for giving thanks to God for the friends that have come to the aid of the island.
“We will not only be having the regular type of celebrations, we will be having more than that,” he said, adding “we will be filled with the spirit and love of God.”
Skerrit acknowledged that the rebuilding exercise will be ‘a very long journey” and said that Sunday will be declared a “day of Caring” where people should come to the assistance of the elderly, the disabled and persons who are still suffering from the effects of the hurricane.
“Imagine if all of us participated in that effort, what a large difference we would be making in the lives of the elderly, disabled citizens,” he said.

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