Thank you to my distinguished colleagues who have spoken here this morning and to those of you who have participated in this discussion. This is a timely conversation.
First and foremost, on behalf of the United States, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to all families who have been impacted by these disasters.
The devastating effects of recent hurricanes and earthquakes remind us that natural disasters know no borders. These transnational challenges underscore the need for regional solidarity now more than ever.
Across the Caribbean, we have longstanding relationships and unique partnerships which provide the foundation for our collective efforts to respond to the humanitarian needs of all affected communities.
The devastating impact of recent hurricanes and earthquakes cuts across our countries and includes the mainland of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Even today, many communities are without power, making it even more difficult for families to rebuild their homes and their lives. We remain grateful for the offers of assistance we have received for communities struck by Hurricanes Maria, Harvey, and Irma. We appreciate these expressions of concern and support for our citizens’ and nation’s welfare.
By working together, we can move beyond the events of the past weeks, recover, and rebuild.
As you know, in June the United States completed a comprehensive strategy to increase engagement in the Caribbean. The strategy is called “Caribbean 2020.” The disaster assistance we are now providing is in line with that commitment.
In our Caribbean 2020 strategy, we also pledged to work with Caribbean countries to address issues of resilience, emergency response capacities, and infrastructure to respond to major natural disasters like Hurricane Irma and Maria.
The U.S. government, through USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and the U.S. Department of Defense, provided more than $15 million in humanitarian assistance for the hurricane responses. U.S. civilian agencies provided more than $15 million of assistance to Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Martin, and Sint Maarten.
Regionally and internationally, nations susceptible to natural disasters should collaborate to develop disaster risk and contingency plans that account for all likely scenarios, while concurrently developing the preparedness and response capabilities to assist vulnerable communities and populations before, during, and following an event.
The U.S. government has a long history of dedicating human and financial resources to build in‐country capacity to prepare for and respond to disasters, especially for first responders and disaster managers. We will continue to stand with people when disaster strikes or a crisis emerges, but we also look to others to do their part.
As all countries in the Caribbean will continue to be threatened by multiple hazards, it is important to build resilience so that all communities are better able to withstand future crises and disasters. We can use knowledge, innovation, and education to build a culture of safety and resilience.
We also emphasize that strategic Public and Private Partnerships can promote disaster risk reduction capacities at the local level.
In our discussions at the United Nations, we continue to believe that working through existing fora, such as this body’s annual humanitarian affairs segment and the General Assembly’s annual consideration of humanitarian and disaster risk reduction resolutions, represents the best way to focus our efforts. Doing so will avoid duplication of efforts and ensure that the United Nations’ limited resources are focused on meeting needs on the ground.
Let me conclude by reiterating that the United States stands in solidarity with all communities as we begin to recover from this storm and build resiliency in the face of future disasters.