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UN Secretary-General to visit storm-ravaged islands of Antigua, Barbuda and Dominica this weekend

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced today that he will be visiting hurricane hit islands of Antigua, Barbuda and Dominica this weekend to survey the damage caused by multiple storms and what more the UN can do help people recover.

Speaking to journalists at a press stakeout at UN Headquarters, in New York, Guterres recognized that some of the most important speeches during the general debate of the General Assembly came from the leaders of Caribbean nations reeling from back-to-back hurricanes. He recalled the how Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda reported that the entire population of Barbuda had been left homeless and the Prime Minister of Dominica declared that he had come to the United Nations “straight from the front line of the war on climate change”.

Mr. Guterres said he was struck by a prevailing message from all the Caribbean leaders – including from the hardest hit countries, who said "we urgently need support today" but even in the wake of utter devastation, urged the world to act for tomorrow.

The Secretary-General highlighted the growing impact of climate change and said that over the past 30 years, the number of annual weather-related disasters nearly tripled, causing great economic losses.

The Secretary-General said “we should not link any single weather event with climate change. But scientists are clear that such extreme weather is precisely what their models predict, and they predict it will be the new normal of a warming world.”

Scientists, he said “are learning more and more about the links between climate change and extreme weather” and are concluding that “a warmer climate turbocharges the intensity of hurricanes. Instead of dissipating, they pick up fuel as they move across the ocean.”

Guterres said “we know that the world has the tools, the technologies and the wealth to address climate change, but we must show more determination in moving towards a green, clean, and sustainable energy future” and urged countries “to implement the Paris Agreement, and with greater ambition.”

The Secretary-General said it was “very important to allow Dominica to have access to innovative forms of finance in concessional conditions,” as “it's very difficult for these countries to rebuild just by having access to normal capital markets.”

He also called for donor support that is “linked both to the humanitarian response and to the plans that, that based on the assessment will be made by the Government, in order to make Dominica an even more resilient country in relation to future storms of this nature.”

Quoting his Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, Michael Bloomberg, Guterres said he believes “the US commitments to Paris will be met independently of the government decisions by the efforts that he is witnessing in the US economy, in the US society.”


Following are the initial remarks by the Secretary/General at the press encounter. A full transcript can be found at the bottom of the page. 


THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
--
PRESS ENCOUNTER
New York, 4 October 2017

 
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you very much for your presence and it is indeed good to see you again.
 
As you know, we are coming off a jam-packed High-level week and opening of the General Assembly.
 
Some of the most important speeches during that period came from the leaders of Caribbean nations reeling from back-to-back hurricanes.

The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda reported that the entire population of Barbuda had been left homeless.

The Prime Minister of Dominica declared that he had come to the United Nations “straight from the front line of the war on climate change”.

Today I am announcing that I will travel on Saturday to Antigua, Barbuda and Dominica to survey the damage and to assess what more the United Nations can do to help people recover, visiting of course also the operations that are taking place there.

When I met them last month, I was struck most of all by a prevailing message from all the Caribbean leaders – including from the hardest hit countries.

Yes, they said, we urgently need support today.  

But even in the wake of utter devastation, they urged the world to act for tomorrow.
 
As I said in my address to the General Assembly, we should not link any single weather event with climate change.
 
But scientists are clear that such extreme weather is precisely what their models predict, and they predict it will be the new normal of a warming world.

I would like to share some relevant data about what we are seeing.

First, some facts about this year’s Atlantic hurricane season.

Hurricane Irma, which devastated Barbuda, was a Category 5 hurricane for three consecutive days – this is the longest on satellite record.

Irma’s winds reached 300 kilometres per hour for 37 hours -- the longest on record at that intensity.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma marked the first time that two Category 4 storms made landfall in the United States in the same year.

And, of course, they were followed by Hurricane Maria, which decimated Dominica and had severe impacts across Puerto Rico.

It is rare to see so many storms of such strength so early in the season.

Second, some facts about the changes in major climate systems.

Sea levels have risen more than 10 inches since 1870.

Over the past 30 years, the number of annual weather-related disasters has nearly tripled, and economic losses have quintupled.

Scientists are learning more and more about the links between climate change and extreme weather.

Climate change is warming the seas.  This, in turn, means more water vapor in the atmosphere.  When storms come, they bring more rain.

A warmer climate turbocharges the intensity of hurricanes.  Instead of dissipating, they pick up fuel as they move across the ocean.

The melting of glaciers, and the thermal expansion of the seas, means bigger storm surges.  With more and more people living on coastlines, the damage is, and will be that much greater.

Scientific models have long predicted an increase in the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes.  This is precisely what is happening – and even sooner than expected.

To date, the United Nations and its partners have provided a variety of humanitarian assistance to the Caribbean region by air and by sea: 18 tons of food; 3 million water purification tablets; 3,000 water tanks; 2,500 tents; 2,000 mosquito nets and school kits; 500 debit cards for cash assistance; and much else.

We have launched appeals for $113.9 million to cover humanitarian needs for the immediate period ahead.
 
I commend those countries that are showing solidarity with the Caribbean countries at this time of dire need, including those doing so through South-South cooperation.

But on the whole, I regret to report, the response has been poor.  I urge donors to respond  more generously in the weeks to come.

The United Nations will continue to help countries in the Caribbean to strengthen disaster preparedness, working closely with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

We are strongly committed to helping small island states and, indeed, all countries to adapt to inevitable climate impacts, to increase the pace of recovery and to strengthen resilience overall.

Innovative financing mechanisms will be crucial in enabling countries, like the Caribbean ones, to cope with external shocks of such significant magnitude.

We know that the world has the tools, the technologies and the wealth to address climate change, but we must show more determination in moving towards a green, clean, sustainable energy future.

Once again, I urge countries to implement the Paris Agreement, and with greater ambition.

That is why I will convene a Climate Summit in 2019, as you know.

But today and every day, I am determined to ensure that the United Nations works to protect our common future and to seize the opportunities of climate action.

Thank you very much.
Read more...

Secretary-General urges to scale up efforts to reduce risks and vulnerabilities and build resilience at a high-level meeting on Hurricane Irma

Thank you to everyone here for your solidarity with the millions of people across the Caribbean affected by Hurricane Irma.  

Irma killed a relatively small number of people but affected millions, causing massive damage to buildings, infrastructure and agricultural land across 11 islands.

I would like to express my deepest sympathies to those who lost family and friends, and to all those affected across the Caribbean, and also the United States.

I welcome the Regional Response Plan that has been developed with support of national and regional disaster management agencies and I appeal to global solidarity. United Nations agencies and their partners are already putting this plan into action, supporting cash transfers, telecommunications support and the provision of clean water, but much more resources are needed for these and for all other efforts, especially the ones by the countries themselves.

Over the past month, four major Atlantic hurricanes have swept across the ocean. This year’s hurricane season is already the most violent on record, and it will continue until the end of November.

The season fits a pattern: changes to our climate are making extreme weather events more severe and frequent, pushing communities into a vicious cycle of shock and recovery.

Extreme weather linked to climate change has an impact all over the world, including floods in southern Asia and landslides and droughts in Africa.

Reducing carbon emissions must clearly be part of our response, together with adaptation measures. We must be able to bend the emissions curve by 2020. The rise in the surface temperature of the ocean has had an impact on weather patterns; and we must do everything possible to bring it down.

We must also scale up our efforts to reduce risks and vulnerabilities and build resilience.

Unless we get better at preparing for storms, mitigating their effects and recovering from them, they will continue to devastate communities, islands and even whole countries, sending agriculture and economic development into freefall and undoing much of the progress that has been made.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will never be achieved in countries that are constantly battling flood waters and rebuilding flattened infrastructure.

International financial institutions also have an important role to play, and I welcome the participation of the World Bank here today.

We know that risk reduction and preparedness save lives and are extremely cost-effective. The huge discrepancy between the number of people killed in developed and developing countries hit by storms of similar size regularly provides more evidence of this.

In the Caribbean region, even in the face of these violent hurricanes, emergency preparedness and risk reduction efforts undoubtedly saved many lives.

I urge Governments, regional organizations, donors, humanitarian and development partners to continue to build on these efforts, in line with the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.

Millions of people across the Caribbean and around the world are counting on us to succeed.




Statement by Secretary-General, António Guterres, at High-Level event on Hurricane Irma.

New York, 18 September 2017
Read more...

Secretary-General urges to scale up efforts to reduce risks and vulnerabilities and build resilience at a high-level meeting on Hurricane Irma

Thank you to everyone here for your solidarity with the millions of people across the Caribbean affected by Hurricane Irma.  

Irma killed a relatively small number of people but affected millions, causing massive damage to buildings, infrastructure and agricultural land across 11 islands.

I would like to express my deepest sympathies to those who lost family and friends, and to all those affected across the Caribbean, and also the United States.

I welcome the Regional Response Plan that has been developed with support of national and regional disaster management agencies and I appeal to global solidarity. United Nations agencies and their partners are already putting this plan into action, supporting cash transfers, telecommunications support and the provision of clean water, but much more resources are needed for these and for all other efforts, especially the ones by the countries themselves.

Over the past month, four major Atlantic hurricanes have swept across the ocean. This year’s hurricane season is already the most violent on record, and it will continue until the end of November.

The season fits a pattern: changes to our climate are making extreme weather events more severe and frequent, pushing communities into a vicious cycle of shock and recovery.

Extreme weather linked to climate change has an impact all over the world, including floods in southern Asia and landslides and droughts in Africa.

Reducing carbon emissions must clearly be part of our response, together with adaptation measures. We must be able to bend the emissions curve by 2020. The rise in the surface temperature of the ocean has had an impact on weather patterns; and we must do everything possible to bring it down.

We must also scale up our efforts to reduce risks and vulnerabilities and build resilience.

Unless we get better at preparing for storms, mitigating their effects and recovering from them, they will continue to devastate communities, islands and even whole countries, sending agriculture and economic development into freefall and undoing much of the progress that has been made.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will never be achieved in countries that are constantly battling flood waters and rebuilding flattened infrastructure.  

International financial institutions also have an important role to play, and I welcome the participation of the World Bank here today.

We know that risk reduction and preparedness save lives and are extremely cost-effective. The huge discrepancy between the number of people killed in developed and developing countries hit by storms of similar size regularly provides more evidence of this.

In the Caribbean region, even in the face of these violent hurricanes, emergency preparedness and risk reduction efforts undoubtedly saved many lives.

I urge Governments, regional organizations, donors, humanitarian and development partners to continue to build on these efforts, in line with the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.

Millions of people across the Caribbean and around the world are counting on us to succeed.


Statement by Secretary-General, António Guterres, at High-Level event on Hurricane Irma.

New York, 18 September 2017
Read more...

Hurricanes in the Caribbean

  • 06 September 2017 |
  • Published in Notices
  • Read the latest situation reports about humanitarian assistance being provided to the countries affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria at the website of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
  • What is a Hurricane?

    When a storm's (tropical cyclone) maximum sustained winds reach 119 kilometers per hour (74 mph), it is called a hurricane. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating, or category, based on a hurricane's maximum sustained winds. The higher the category, the greater the hurricane's potential for property damage.  Hurricanes originate in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico, the eastern North Pacific Ocean, and, less frequently, the central North Pacific Ocean. A six-year rotating list of names, updated and maintained by the World Meteorological Organization, is used to identify these storms.

    (source: NOAA - Hurricane Centre) 


     

    For more information on Hurricanes and preparedness in the Caribbean go to the CDEMA website

    How you can help?

    website donation button

    Donate:

    You can make a donation to one of the country based internatoinal funds managed by the UN Foundation. The UN Reliefweb also provides information on how to donate to specific appeals by the UN following some disaster or emergency. Most times money donations help to get urgent relief items to an area faster, because it helps to buy appropriate medication, food and shelter supplies from the closest or fastest and safest or most trustworthy supplier.

    Be careful of fraud. Double check the source of information before donating. If you have doubts visit the OCHA website or contact a UN office for more information.

    Donations in kind, are also welcome. They will usually be organised by local or internatoinal NGOs or government agencies who work with OCHA to provide supply relief items. It usually takes some time before this process happens. Port facilities and services need to be functioning to make this type of aid successful. 

    Take Action:

    - Find Local or regional NGOs supporting the humanitarian assistance to areas in need: ( check back here to see an active list for Irma)

    - Contact local UN offices to find out more about volunteering or go to the UN Volunteers website

    The UN will post appeals for assistance as soon as an assessment is conducted on the impacted islands/states and based on needs.

     

     


  •  

  • Read the latest situation reports about humanitarian assistance being provided to the countries affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria at the website of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

    images


     

    How does the UN provide assistance to emergencies, disasters or hazards?

     ochaicon

    Office for the Coordinaton of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)  is the part of the United Nations Secretariat responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to emergencies. OCHA also ensures there is a framework within which each actor can contribute to the overall response effort. 

    OCHA's mission is to:

    • Mobilize and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors in order to alleviate human suffering in disasters and emergencies.
    • Advocate the rights of people in need.
    • Promote preparedness and prevention.
    • Facilitate sustainable solutions.

    The humanitarian programme cycle (HPC) is a coordinated series of actions undertaken to help prepare for, manage and deliver humanitarian response. It consists of five elements coordinated in a seamless manner, with one step logically building on the previous and leading to the next.

    Core HPC Elements are:

    Needs assessment and analysis
    Strategic response planning
    Resource mobilization
    Implementation and monitoring
    Operational review and evaluation

    Learn more about OCHA and how it coordinates humanitarian assistance

    OCHA 25th aniversary logo

     

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Telephone: 1(868) 623 8438 or 623 4813

Fax: 1 (868) 623 4332 

Address: 

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

 

 

 

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