Noting that several regional and international governments had already come to Dominica’s aid, he indicated he would be making a strong case to the wider international community for further assistance.
Speaking live on ABS TV in Antigua, PM Skerrit had to pause for a few minutes to compose himself as he reflected on the destruction he has seen so far and what it will take to bring relief to the Dominican people.
His voice broke and he wiped tears from his eyes as he described a country in which no household – regardless of income level – was left untouched by the punishing winds and deluge of water brought to the island as the eye of Maria passed directly over Dominica on Monday night.
“Every part of Dominica has received a serious beating – if not by wind, then by water,” he said.
So far 15 persons have already been buried, with persons reported missing and more areas still to be visited. But while the death toll is expected to climb, PM Skerrit said, “It is a miracle that there were not hundreds of deaths.”
Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit in studio with Garfield Burford of ABS Television.
The beleaguered prime minister said though he previously had no intention of going to the United Nations General Assembly, currently taking place in New York, he will now be travelling there on Friday to address the international community, meet with the UN Secretary-General and outline Dominica’s needs and how the international community can help.
PM Skerrit said he is “completely committed” to getting Dominica the financial aid that it needs from international partners.
“Unfortunately, we had to wait for Irma and Maria to let the world understand what we’ve been saying to them for a long time – that we are very vulnerable. We are exposed to the ravages of climate change. We need access to resources to build more resilient societies and countries. We have been playing our part but the extent of the resources required to put in the mitigation systems is beyond us."
He pointed out that some Caribbean countries find it difficult to raise money from the international community because of their per capita income and GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
“It’s unfortunate that you are being punished for making progress,” he observed.
However, he said he was comforted that the common experience of the past weeks had ignited a “greater sense of unity in purpose” among the leadership in the Caribbean.