UK government releases £32m emergency aid in wake of storm Irma

8 Sep 17

The UK government has released £32m emergency aid to its overseas territories hit by hurricane Irma and is providing extra emergency support, such as 'shelter kits'. 

It had planned to release £12m, but increased this after Cobra, the cabinet emergency committee, said the destruction on the British territories of Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands was worse than expected. 

British Virgin Islands governor Gus Jaspert declared a state of emergency for the territory, in a statement, and said it had requested the further assistance from the UK, which is now being provided.

Priti Patel, UK international development secretary, said: “The UK has already sent emergency UK aid relief supplies including 200 shelter kits, each able to support a family of five, providing immediate relief to 1,000 people who have lost their homes.

“I have sent world-leading humanitarian experts to the region who are working with the British Red Cross to urgently assess need and ensure that the UK’s help reaches those whose lives have been torn apart by the destruction wrought by hurricane Irma,” she added. 

A military task group has been dispatched, including ship HMS Ocean with at least three helicopters on board. Hundreds of marines and engineers have been sent in transport planes to support the relief efforts.

France and the Netherlands have both sent aid to islands affected by the storm. France sent emergency food and water to its overseas territories and president Emmanuel Macron said he would visit the French Caribbean islands “as soon as possible”.

The Netherlands sent aid with military support, food and water, after its defence ministry met on Thursday morning. 

Irma passed over the British territories of Anguilla, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands on Wednesday night, and the UK islands of Turks and Caicos on Thursday evening.

About 49 million people are directly in the path of the hurricane, including more than 10.5 million children, with early estimates suggesting that 74,000 people have been affected, the United Nations said.

The UN secretary-general’s spokesperson said yesterday in a statement that the UN was already supporting national relief efforts.

UN emergency relief coordinator Mark Lowcock said: “In the days preceding the storm’s landfall, humanitarian agencies began to pre-position supplies and technical experts to support national and regional relief efforts.”

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) said it would send experts on crisis recovery to assist in the Caribbean. 

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