#TurksandCaicos, April 23, 2021 – Two months into its term in Office, the new Government has seen 9 sloops with 3 intercepted in the past week alone carrying a total of approximately 631 persons and one making a rare landfall on the Island of South Caicos with a report that seems that all made good their escape. We can all agree across party lines that this is tragic on all levels but certainly for the people of this country, it remains a financial burden that we painfully bear. On top of this, this is equally a real health risk given the fact that we are actively managing a pandemic that is getting deadlier and deadlier having loss more citizens to death in the past three months than we did in all the prior months during this pandemic.
The PDM as Government recognized and continue to recognize that there must be a strategic, well resourced, modern and sustainable approach to addressing illegal migration and encourage the PNP Government to not abandon the hard work and the plans left behind.
On the PDM assuming Office in December 2016, persons will recall the launch of Operation Guardian as early as a few months after gaining Office which in its inaugural year by July 2017 saw 1335 persons repatriated versus 419 in 2016. This sustained land – based operation was halted for humanitarian reasons following the Twin Storms of 2017. The Storms further highlighted that we could no longer rely so heavily on our Radar System which was damaged following these Storms and which provided limited coverage.
The vision of the PDM Government to become more involved as a true partner with the Governor and UK in the matter of internal and external security put into action and the plans under our 12 Point Law Enforcement Plan which saw the modernization, strengthening and strategic pooling of our resources locally, regionally and internationally. This approach became even more urgent two years ago in March 2018 with an onslaught of sloops which forced us to call on the UK for a UK Ship to provide border coverage which was favorably considered. This also saw the beginning of Official Talks with the Bahamas towards the first ever bilateral agreement: an MOU that will allow us the benefit of the Bahamian resources (The Bahamas Defense Force) in a strategic way outside of the OPBAT arrangement.
With the rapid arrival of illegal sloops and the detention of over 600 migrants in a week, the PDM deem it important to remind the people of our ground breaking efforts and wish to encourage the PNP Government to not abandon the hard work carried out over the past four years which will strengthen our defenses.
After several years of working towards a holistic threat assessment and the creation of a national security strategy, the PDM Government established a Secretariat with its first ever Permanent Secretary of National Security. This Unit must help to provide a coordinated approach across government as the days of having law enforcement bodies working in silos should be discouraged and the smart and strategic use of our limited resources should be encouraged.
Over the years, investment in the leading enforcement bodies has seen restructuring of the then Ministry of Border Control and Immigration Task Force to see the recruitment of a second Deputy Permanent Secretary dedicated solely to immigration and the recruitment of a Task Force Manager. The Police as one of the lead partners in stemming the flow of illegal migrants saw record investment in manpower, cars, boats, plane and drone in its role in national security.
The Department of Environment and Coastal Resources also received new vessels while the Radar Staff was increased and equipment enhanced. While continued investment in the various lead bodies through equipment and manpower is a must, legislation must be introduced to enhance and support all efforts.
However, of critical importance are the three major strands of work advanced before we demitted Office and which have been reported on over the years. All works have taken considerable time with UK and TCI investment and dedication to move at pace. Persons will recall the visit of the UK Border Team and representatives from the Ministry of Defense who made strong recommendations several years ago. Persons will also recall the introduction of a Change Manager in our National Budget two years ago to lead on the creation of a Joint Law Enforcement Body styled a Border Protection Agency that will see the smarter and more strategic use of our resources across law enforcement. As a follow up to these efforts more than 2 years ago, works have advanced for the establishment of TCI’s first Border Force Agency with a direct seconded staff member from the UK (at its own cost) and the establishment of the TCI’s Regiment, now in the process of recruiting more manpower to assist in the area of national security.
The third and equally critical strand of work is the joint investment between TCIG’s Consolidated Funds and National Forfeiture Fund towards the purchase of additional radar satellite stations. These three strands of work should not be discontinued at any cost if we want to see any real change. We call on the PNP Government to allow these works to continue. And even as we seek to strengthen our borders, the work of Operation Guardian, a sustained land – based operation to detain and repatriate undocumented residents must be restored together with the use of the strengthened policies and laws made available to the Planning Department and AG’s Chambers (who manages the Crown Land Unit) to address informal settlements.
We are confident that our many years of work will be a game changer and the continuation of our efforts will be best for TCI.
CANARI outlines climate priorities ahead of Cop28
The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) informed that the Caribbean Climate Justice Alliance, in preparation for the upcoming annual COP28 in 2023, launched its “Caribbean Climate Justice and Resilience Agenda,” outlining the priorities for climate justice and resilience in vulnerable Caribbean small island developing states (SIDS).
In a press release, CANARI highlighted that the agenda recognizes the major threat of climate change to the region as well as aims to louden the voices of the at-risk groups “on the frontlines of the climate crisis and catalyze actions for climate justice and local resilience in the Caribbean SIDS.”
The priorities stated under the agenda are:
- Curbing emissions to limit global temperature
increase to 1.5 ̊C
- Scaling up locally-led solutions for adaptation and
loss and damage
- Improving access to and delivery of climate finance
for frontline communities, small and micro enterprises, and civil society organizations as part of a ‘whole of society’ approach
- Scaling up just, nature-based solutions for resilience
- Supporting a just transition for pro-poor, inclusive,
sustainable and resilient development
- Promoting gender equity and social inclusion
approaches to climate action
- Promoting youth and intergenerational equity as
core to the climate response
- Integrating a rights-based and earth-centered
approach in addressing all these priorities and ensuring climate justice
The at-risk groups referred to in the release include small-scale farmers and fisherfolk, rural women producers, income-poor people, elderly and disabled people, Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, migrants, and LGBTQIA+ people.
Being cognizant of the severity of the effects of climate change on the Caribbean, CANARI referred to the fact that the very existence of the region is on the line.
“If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated and global temperature exceeds 1.5 ̊C, the impacts of rising sea levels, more intense hurricanes, rainfall variability, ocean acidification, and other changes threaten the very existence of our way of life in the Caribbean and other SIDS that have contributed the least to global emissions.”
CARICOM Sec Gen speaks on Gender Based Violence
“Everyone must continue to invest in preventing violence against our women and girls (VAWG). It is an investment in our shared future,” were the words of Dr. Carla N. Barnett, CARICOM Secretary-General, as she reiterated the need for solutions against VAWG.
She called attention to VAWG as she gave a speech surrounding the annual campaign “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence,” which runs from November 25 to December 10, 2023.
Barnett expresses the well-known fact that VAWG is one of the most prevalent issues affecting all corners of society.
“VAWG remains one of the most pervasive forms of human rights violations in the world and cuts across all races, cultures, genders, and educational backgrounds,” she maintained, as she continued to point out the sad reality that this is still a major issue despite regional and global policies.
“Despite the existence of regional and global policies and legislation to combat VAWG, weak enforcement and discriminatory practices remain significant barriers to ending VAWG.”
The Secretary-General highlighted statistics for VAWG, bringing attention to how serious and embedded this issue is in society.
She said that globally, 736 million women—nearly one in three—have experienced violence—physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or even both.
For the Caribbean region, she said surveys conducted between 2016 and 2019 inform us that one in two women experience intimate partner violence, which is higher than the global average.
In continuation, Barnett expressed that the campaign calls everyone to action against VAWG, including “development partners, civil society organizations, women’s organizations, youth, the private sector, and the media.” Also, world governments are being asked to share how they are investing in gender-based violence prevention.
Ending her address, the Secretary-General urged everyone to wear the color orange for the duration of the campaign, as well as on the 25th of each month, “as a symbol of hope for a brighter future where women and girls live free from violence.”
Support for Flood-Affected Farmers
#Kingston, November 26, 2023 – A total of $157 million is to be provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining, to support farmers affected by the recent heavy rains from Potential Tropical Cyclone 22.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Floyd Green, made the announcement during a National ‘Eat Jamaican Day’ ceremony in Portland on Friday (November 24).
The Minister lamented that the country had moved from a period of harsh drought to the next extreme – flooding.
“A number of our farmers suffered tremendous loss and the team from RADA (Rural Agricultural Development Authority) has been out since last week Saturday, trying to quantify what has been the losses that have been suffered by our farmers,” he said.
According to the Minister, preliminary figures reveal that $274 million in damage was done to the agricultural sector, with livestock farmers suffering about $25 million in losses; equipment loss of over $10 million; $173 million in crop loss; and $64 million in damage to the farm road network.
“The good news is that we are not going to leave our farmers alone and we know, as they said to the Prime Minister when he toured last week, that once they get some support, they are willing to go back out and farm,” Mr. Green indicated.
The $157 million support package from the Ministry will be used in several ways. A total of $70 million is to be provided for crop support – inputs, seeds, and fertilizers – and another $8 million for equipment support.
A total of $15 million will be expended for support to livestock and $64 million will be used to rehabilitate farm roads.
Minister Green also announced that resulting from a gift from the Kingdom of Morocco, 24,000 bags of fertilizers will be distributed among farmers over the next two weeks.
The Minister informed that the parish that was most affected by the recent weather event was St. Thomas and that, “almost every farming community in St. Thomas suffered from flood damage.”
Farming communities in St Andrew were also cut off because of landslides.
Contact: Mickella Anderson-Gordon
Photo Caption: Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining, Hon. Floyd Green.
Photo by Mark Bell
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