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Help your Caribbean neighbors: Sharma

Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma has called on the region to help those Caribbean countries affected by Tropical Storm Tomas recently.

He was referring to the islands of St. Lucia, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines which were hit by Tomas.

The call follows Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s announcement that her government will assist CARICOM neighbors only if it benefited Trinidad and Tobago.

Her statement later fueled criticisms from people around the region in an online call for all Caribbean nations to boycott Trinidad and Tobago’s products.

Sharma said immediate responses from the regional and international communities are paramount in helping these three Commonwealth countries recover.

He said efforts must focus on supplies to communities that are isolated as a result of the flooding and landslides.

Hardest hit among the Caribbean islands was St. Lucia, where 12 people died in the storm and left more than $500 million in damage.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines also suffered extensive damage to homes, roads, agriculture and infrastructure.

Tomas left more than Bds$17 million in losses in Barbados.

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar led a delegation of contractors and local businessmen to St. Lucia to survey the damage left by the hurricane and to distribute relief supplies.

She told a press conference that instead of T&T giving monetary assistance to the affected islands, the government will partner with the local industry, non-governmental organizations and other organizations to send material and other relief aid so the local economy benefits.

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