Eight CARICOM countries and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) have contributed a total of $4 million towards the relief effort in Haiti, with Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana topping the list with pledges of $1 million each. This was announced by CARICOM Secretary General Edwin Carrington during a news conference at the 15-member regional body’s headquarters in Guyana. In giving a breakdown of the pledges by the CARICOM members states to date, Carrington took note of Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning’s announcement that the $1 million his government has pledged to Haiti is “in the first instance.”
He said there may be more pledges coming for other member states.
He said the “information we have at the moment” is that in addition to the pledges from T&T and Guyana, the six other CARICOM states contributed as follows – Grenada $100,000, Suriname $1 million, St. Lucia $187,265 the Virgin Islands $8,000, Antigua and Barbuda EC$100,000 and St. Vincent and the Grenadines $100,000. In addition, Carrington said the CDB has pledged $200,000.
In doing so, he and other senior CARICOM officials defended the organization from criticisms throughout the region that its response after the earthquake recently has been lacking.
Carrington highlighted Jamaica’s immediate deployment of a contingent of troops to Haiti after the earthquake and its 10000-member strong CARICOM team there now.
As for Jamaica’s willingness to accept Haitian refugees, CARICOM implementation Agency for Crime and Security executive director, Lynne Anne Williams said there are some concerns about ensuring the proper identification of any such Haitians, due to the escape of 3,780 prisoners when Haiti’s main jail collapsed during the earthquake.
Williams said that among the procedures that must be put in place by CARICOM to deal with the refugee issue, is a system “confirming the documentation and identification of persons who wish to move to different CARICOM states.”