By Sherrica Thompson
#USA, January 25, 2023 – The US Coast Guard is again warning migrants against illegal voyages by sea as 55 migrants were rescued on Thursday, January 19, after being abandoned and stranded by smugglers on an uninhabited natural reserve of Monito Island in Puerto Rico.
US Coast Guard said the survivors consisted of forty-five (45) men and nine (9) women claiming Haitian nationality, and one man who claimed to be a Cuban national. All 55 migrants were transferred to Ramey Sector Border Patrol Agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
The rescue involved efforts and coordination with Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) partner agencies.
According to the US Coast Guard, watch standers in San Juan, Puerto Rico, received a communication from the aircrew of a Coast Guard HC-144 aircraft during a maritime patrol in the Mona Passage Monday night of a group of people stranded on the rocky cliffs of Monito Island located just off Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
“Heavy sea-state conditions of six-to-eight-foot seas and the difficulty of accessing the ocean cliffs prevented rescue efforts from taking place until Thursday morning. Once sea-state and wind conditions improved, the cutter Heriberto Hernandez’s Over the Horizon boat safely approached Monito Island,” the agency explained in a press release.
“The Coast Guard crew provided lifejackets to the group before each migrant took their turns jumping into the water while holding onto a heaving line that was used by the crew to recover them from the water.”
Commander of Coast Guard Sector for San Juan, Captain José E. Díaz, while commenting on the danger of these voyages, urged those thinking of taking part in an illegal voyage across the Mona Passage not to do so by sea.
“The dangers of illegal voyages in the Mona Passage are exponentially increased when smugglers leave their passengers abandoned for days in austere and dangerous environments like Monito Island,” Díaz said.
Adding that: “Most do not realize the danger they are in until it is too late, as these voyages often take place aboard makeshift and grossly overloaded vessels with no lifesaving equipment. If you are thinking of taking part in an illegal voyage across the Mona Passage, do not take to the sea! It may save your life or the life of your loved ones!”
Since October 1, 2022, through December 31, 2022, the Coast Guard has carried out 14 interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico of illegal voyagers.
The US Coast Guard noted that 419 non-U.S. citizens, including 327 Dominicans, 91 Haitians and one unknown nationality, were interdicted during this period.
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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