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UN Secretary-General urges global solidarity, accelerated climate action after visit to hurricane-stricken Barbuda

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres seeing first-hand the destruction wrought by the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean (Codrington, Antigua and Barbuda)
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres seeing first-hand the destruction wrought by the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean (Codrington, Antigua and Barbuda) UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
St John’s, Antigua (7 October 2017).- ¨I’ve just witnessed a level of devastation that I have never witnessed in my life¨, said the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, during a ¨visit of solidarity¨ to storm-ravaged Antigua and Barbuda today.

Hurricane Irma, recalled Mr. Guterres, had winds of 300 km per hour for 37 hours making it the longest period ever recorded. The number of natural disasters have tripled and the related economic losses quintupled in the last 30 years. ¨The link between climate change and the devastation we are witnessing is clear, and there is a collective responsibility of the international community to stop this suicidal development¨, he said.

The Secretary-General also made a strong appeal for international solidarity with the Caribbean islands impacted by the storms, pointing out that while humanitarian aid is still coming it is not enough and that new mechanisms that would allow for an effective reconstruction and to build up resilience to future storms are necessary.

In a joint press conference, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, and Mr. Guterres pointed out that most of the Caribbean countries impacted by the storms are middle-income countries and because of that, they are deprived of the form of assistance or concessional loans that low-income countries can have access to.
 
While these countries have graduated as middle-income countries, the fact is that ¨they have a number of vulnerabilities that need to be taken into account if we want them to be sustainable as middle-income countries¨, said Mr. Guterres. In this regards, he also mentioned the proposals of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean to transform the repayment of debt in investments made by the countries in resilience to storms. 
 
The Secretary-General reaffirmed his total commitment to do everything possible to make sure that the international community fully assumes its responsibilities in support to the islands impacted by the storms, not only to face their present enormous challenges but also to allow them to fully commit themselves to the Sustainable Development Goals and to the well-being of their population.

Mr. Guterres will visit Dominica this Sunday.

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