Red Cross launches global appeal to help Dominica

ROSEAU, Dominica  — The International Red Cross has launched a global appeal for US$5.6 million to help it carry out its activities in Dominica that was severely battered when Hurricane Maria made its way through the island on September 18.

Walter Cotte Witingan, the Red Cross- Americas Regional Director, speaking at the daily briefing here, said that “we are now covering around 33 per cent of the appeal, but we are improving.

“The effect of not having enough money for the appeal is because Dominica (is) experiencing the competition with other emergencies that we have in the region. It is for that reason that we are calling for collective responsibility of our region…that could help Dominica”.

Witingan said that the Red Cross would maintain its presence here, noting that Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit recent announcement that the organisation would be taking over the distribution of relief material to communities island-wide. Skerrit said that the discussions to outline modalities would be held very soon.

“We are going to stay here through the Dominica Red Cross and we are going to accompany the Dominica Red Cross …to be better for the next moment you have something similar like this, that is very likely because this is the region …where need to be permanently prepared for the future”.

But he told reporters “for us the real message we want to deliver today is that we are calling for the urgency to support Dominica. We are here in Dominica to show solidarity, respect and sense of responsibility for Dominica.

“We need to be serious supporting Dominica as soon as possible this country requires full support of our region and globally and we are going to maintain that position until the moment we get some resources to do the job,” Witingan, adding that the Red Cross wanted also to pay tribute to those killed by the storm as well as help in the rebuilding exercise.

Tourism Minister Robert Tonge said that the government was prepared to assist hoteliers and other stakeholders get back on their feet as soon as possible, but warned “this must be done in a transparent manner”.

He said while the government is prepared to provide some level of funding, business owners who would have received payments as a result of their insurance claims, should also be forthright in informing the authorities.

Tonge said that it was important for Dominica’s scenic spots to be open as quickly as possible and announced that the World Creole Festival that had been scheduled for month had been cancelled.

He urged ticket holders to donate the funds to a charity and also announced that Barbados and Antigua would be staging relief concerts on October 29 to help countries battered by the hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria.