UK government ‘should have been better prepared for Hurricane Irma’

7 Mar 18

The UK government should have been better prepared to assist overseas territories hit by hurricanes in September, the Foreign Affairs Committee has said.

The committee called for an international strategy for disaster relief for UK territories in the Caribbean, which are frequently hit by hurricanes, in a report called The UK’s response to hurricanes in its Overseas Territories, published today.

Tom Tugendhat, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “Access to development aid, help with recovery, resilience-building activity – there is still much to be done by the government.”

He added: “The work of all those involved in the rescue efforts in the immediate aftermath of the hurricanes and since, are to be commended.

“However, ministers need to offer the UK’s Overseas Territories a more structured response in any such future event.”

The report said the international strategy for disaster relief should allow for the “best use of resources in time-critical disaster situations”.

It also suggest the government looks at the relationship with its Overseas Territories as well as its reliance on the Royal Navy for crisis response.

Tugendhat said: "The FCO should also consider whether the relationship between Government and the UK’s Overseas Territories requires attention. The Committee intends to return to this issue later this year."

The Caribbean was hit by Hurricane Irma and Maria in September last year which resulted in widespread devastation across the British Overseas Territories of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

While the UK’s response was seen as shift and strategic by some of the islands, there are lessons to be learned, the report said.

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