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Jamaicans urge gov't to speedily get families home from hurricane-ravaged islands

Taneish Miller, a Jamaican with relatives in the British Virgin Islands and Yanique Jones, another Jamaican with relatives in St. Martin
 
Jamaicans with family members in the British Virgin Islands and other islands affected by Hurricane Irma are calling for the government to move swiftly to bring their relatives home as they say food and water supplies are running critically low.
    
Ronald Jackson, Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) on Wednesday told RJR News that efforts to assist Jamaicans to return home from Irma-ravaged islands have intensified.
    
But several callers to the RJR Newsroom expressed impatience with what they say is the slow movement of the authorities as they say their relatives are suffering under increasingly dire conditions.  
 
Taneish Miller is worried. Her mother, a 53 year old resident of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, has no water and a dwindling food supply.
    
Her mother, who is diabetic, is also running out of medication.  
    
Miss Miller said her relatives' condition is no different from that of many Jamaicans residing in the eastern Caribbean country.  
     
She said when she last spoke to her mother on Tuesday evening, she relayed news of desperation among the Jamaican community.
 
"They are suffering because it's hopeless for them... I don't think that it's gotten to the stage of starvation because my mother was able to eat, but there is a scarcity of drinking water," she told RJR News.  
 
Miss Miller has not been able to get in touch with her mother since, as the calls have been not able to connect. There is no electricity, limited telecommunications services and very little money. 
     
Miss Miller said she is worried about her relatives as there have been reports of looting and break-ins as persons are desperately trying to survive.  
     
She said she has made several calls to the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Jamaica but information coming out of the ministry has been slow and unclear.
 
"We're not getting any answers as to how we are going to be able to take them home because without any money, any documents, the situation is looking (grim). When you hear the stories, it's not like hurricanes in Jamaica... it's devastating with no help in the horizon anywhere," said a worried Miller.
 
CARICOM Chairman Dr. Keith Mitchell has said while it is still too early to give a financial cost of the damage to the British Virgin Islands by Hurricane Irma, it could reach as much as US$1 billion. 
   
Dr. Mitchell made the disclosure after leading a delegation that visited the islands battered by the Category 5 storm.  
Dr. Mitchell, who is the Prime Minister of Grenada, said CARICOM is mobilising resources to assist the ravaged islands, and will soon hold a donors conference in a bid to secure further help.  
   
CARICOM Secretary General Irwin la Rocque, who was part of the delegation which visited the affected islands, said the damage is overwhelming.
 
St. Martin
 
Meanwhile, a relative of at least one family trapped in dire circumstances in St. Martin has been speaking about the conditions she has been told about during intermittent calls from her parents and siblings.
    
Yanique Jones, who is in Jamaica, has been gathering information from the few calls which have been able to connect.
 
"Today, I was able to speak with my dad again after a week. He sent a Whatsapp message to me last night and I received it this morning...He was actually telling me that he needed assistance, even if he could send the kids home that would be really good because it's not habitable now for them being that...there are a lot of insects and they are running out of food," she lamented. 
 
According to Miss Jones, nationals of other countries are receiving assistance from their governments, but she is dissatisfied with what is being done by Jamaica.
 
"Jamaicans are devastated being there knowing that they are from somewhere as well and they should have representatives... But after making my call to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today, I was informed that they are taking names now to find out who is there and taking names of families...and I am dissatisfied with that," she insisted, pointing out that those steps should have already been done. 
 
She said her mother, father, older brother and sister were born in Jamaica while her two younger siblings were born in St. Martin.
                                                   
 


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