Cuba Calls For Greater Assistance For C’bean States Hit By Hurricanes Irma and Maria

PRESS RELEASE – (Statement by the Cuban delegation in the High-Level Donor Conference for Recovery of the Caribbean after Hurricanes Irma and Maria)

Mr. Chairman, we are deeply grateful for the convening of this meeting in such difficult times for the countries affected by the destructive hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The increasingly devastating and frequent brunt of natural disasters confirms that climate change is a threat to the survival of humanity and to the sustainable development of peoples.

The recent passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria through the Caribbean region demonstrated once again the vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the face of natural events of this magnitude.

It is, therefore, essential to promote national, regional and global efforts to implement the Sendai Framework of Action for Disaster Risk Reduction; the Accelerated Action Modalities for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) (Samoa Pathway); the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and full respect for international law and the sovereignty of States.

Mr. Chairman, the major obstacle facing the developing countries and, particularly the Small Island States, in terms of disaster risk reduction is precisely underdevelopment, which is reproduced and aggravated by an unjust international economic order and unsustainable patterns of neoliberalism.

The international community, particularly the developed countries, must honour their historic commitments and their ethical and ecological responsibility to humanity and future generations. It is imperative to increase international cooperation and the transfer of resources and technologies to developing countries, aimed at strengthening national capacities for the preparedness and response to natural events such as hurricanes, whose frequency and intensity will continue to grow. Graduation as a middle-income or high-income country cannot be an obstacle to cooperation.

Mr. Chairman, Cuba highly values international collaboration on disaster risk reduction, as well as the exchange of experiences and good practices in preventing and addressing these events.

We have engaged in exchange and cooperation with many countries of the continent, also involving agencies of the United Nations System, international and regional government agencies, and non-governmental organizations, among other actors.

The Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, in his address at the general debate of the 72nd session of the UNGA, called on the international community to give priority and mobilize resources to help the small island states and territories in the Caribbean devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria. At the same time, he expressed Cuba’s willingness to increase cooperation, to the extent of its modest possibilities, to the brotherly peoples and governments of Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica, among other Caribbean countries and territories that suffered the terrible destruction caused by those hurricanes.

In Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica, dozens of Cuban health workers were already working. In the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria, they were joined by specialists and technicians in electricity networks and by other human and material resources useful in recovery. Due to their small size, smaller population and limited ability to generate their own resources, these CARICOM countries require priority in the international mobilization of aid.

Mr. Chairman, Hurricane Irma hit Cuba for more than 72 hours. Virtually no territory of the archipelago escaped its effects. The fruit of years of hard work of our people were erased by the hurricane in a few hours.

However, as Cuban President Raúl Castro Ruz affirmed, the spirit of resistance and victory of our people is reborn with every adversity.

Cuba reiterates its profound appreciation for the heartfelt examples of solidarity and affection, and for the help received in its colossal reconstruction efforts.

As has been rightly said, the impact of hurricanes Irma and Maria reveals that confronting climate change is a priority for humanity, under the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and particularly the need for a special and differentiated treatment to small island states, such as the sister nations of Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica.

Advancing in disaster risk reduction has never been so urgent in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. We wish to reaffirm Cuba’s commitment and willingness to achieve this collective goal.

Thank you very much.

(Cubaminrex-Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations)

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