Jamaica has been designated the centre through which the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) relief intervention for earthquake-hit Haiti will be channelled.
Addressing journalists at a media briefing at Jamaica House on Friday (January 15), Minister with responsibility for Information, Hon. Daryl Vaz, disclosed that this decision was reached during a meeting of CARICOM representatives hosted by Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, at Jamaica House on Thursday (January 14).
Mr. Golding met with a nine-man delegation led by CARICOM Chairman, and Dominica’s Prime Minister, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, as well as Secretary General, Dr. Edwin Carrington, and Barbados’ Prime Minister, Hon. David Thompson.
Mr. Vaz advised that, based on preliminary discussions, CARICOM would focus on providing medicine and medical personnel for Haiti.
“We believe that we will be able to put together, between all of the Governments, a good contingent of doctors and other medical officers to assist with the situation in Haiti,” he contended.
He said that the CARICOM delegation left Jamaica early Friday (January 15) for Haiti, to get a first hand view of the damage, and for further briefing by the Haitian administration, in order to “formalize and concretize” what they are doing.
Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Ronald Jackson, said that, regarding the medical response, the CARICOM officials discussed the deployment of additional personnel, through the Caribbean Disaster Relief Unit.
“So we are establishing a CARICOM military contingent, with skills sets in medical operations and engineering, to work on some of the key issues of establishing temporary medical facilities, medical posts, supported with temporary housing for persons,” he explained.
Mr. Vaz also advised that the Government has been approached by United Nations interests in Haiti, to accommodate their personnel in Jamaica for medical treatment.
“We have already been contacted and the Ministry of Health has made provisions at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), to allow for some United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force members, (who are) critically injured, to get medical attention in Jamaica,” he said.
Mr. Jackson said CARICOM was also giving consideration to this as part of the medical response, particularly for Haitians who need medical attention which, probably, cannot be administered there.
He added that CARICOM’s efforts are being funded through donations from the international community. Approximately US$5 million has been released to support the regional body’s activities.
Mr. Jackson said that US$1 million have each been forthcoming from the Governments of Australia and Trinidad and Tobago and discussions have been held with the Caribbean Development Bank to provide resources, as well.