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News Round UP: Week Ending 10/15/16

Haiti

Haiti has welcomed the arrival of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Operational Support Team (COST) as the French-speaking country recovers from the battering it took from Hurricane Matthew last week that left more than 800 people dead.

Interior Minister Francois Anick Joseph said the presence of the team underscores efforts to deepen the regional integration process and that he was looking forward to further collaboration with COST in the rehabilitation of the country battered by the worst storm to hit the Caribbean in a decade.

“Your presence here is an expression of the will of the whole Caribbean to become just one region united by our desire for a better life, a willingness to help one another to face disaster.

‘In the face of disaster our determination is our most important weapon,” he told the five-member CARICOM group headed by former Army General Earl Arthurs.

The team is deployed to the communities of Les Cayes and Jeremie which were badly affected when the Category 4 Hurricane ploughed through the country last week.

Arthurs assured the minister that that team was willing to provide the assistance needed to improve the functionality of the Emergency Operation Centers (NECO).in the affected areas.

“We know the country a little bit, we know some of the problems and we are willing to work and to support you,” he said, adding he is confident the team will be able to achieve its mission.

Director of the Civil Protection Department which also serves as the National Emergency Operating Center (NEOC), Mrs. Marie Alta Jn Baptiste, said the most pressing need is for assistance to rebuild infrastructure and the agricultural sector, which was severely damaged by the hurricane.

Head of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordinating Team (UNDAC) Juan Pablo O’Farrill told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the decision by the Civil Protection Department.

To get people to go to the various shelters may have saved thousands of lives.

But Mrs. Jn Baptiste said there needs to be more work done in educating people on the importance of heeding the warnings.

The official death toll as of Sunday stood at 336, despite international media quoting in excess of 800.

Asked the reason for the vast discrepancy, Mrs Jn Baptiste this was because they are unauthorized people calming to speak on behalf of the EOC.

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Guyana

The Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) Monday, said it has been successful in its application for the suspension of import duties on raw materials under the Common External Tarriff (CET).

In a statement, GMSA that it had received support in its application to the Guyana-based Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat for the suspension from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It said the single item rejected was Soya Bean Oil, based on an objection by a Barbados-based firm that it is producing the commodity.

“This fulfills the short term goals as reported previously by the GMSA. The long term goal of the Association is to work with the relevant agencies to have these ineligibles items along with many others removed from the list since many of them are no longer available in the region.”

GMSA said that manufacturing companies which were faced with the enforcement of import duties on raw materials that appeared on the list of ineligible items were granted suspensions through the CARICOM Secretariat.

The list of ineligible items was developed in the late 70s early 80s and was designed to protect the CARICOM region.

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National

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), says it is prepared to assist Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries affected by the passage of Hurricane Matthew that left at last count, some 339 people dead in Haiti.

The storm, regarded as one of the most powerful to hit the region since 2007, also caused widespread damage in the French-speaking CARICOM country as well as in The Bahamas, as it made its way through the Caribbean.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, expressing the Fund’s “deep concern and sympathy for the countries affected by Hurricane Matthew” said that she is also saddened “by the reports of lives lost and widespread destruction.

“Several countries have suffered damage from the storm, including Colombia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and the Bahamas.

“Haiti, which is still recovering from a catastrophic earthquake six year ago, appears to have suffered some of the worst effects of the storm. We are very concerned by reports of extensive loss of life, flooding, and destruction, particularly in the southwestern part of the country that received the strongest impact from Hurricane Matthew.”

She said the Washington-based financial institution “stands ready to help the authorities of member countries as they deal with the aftermath of this catastrophe”.

The World Bank has already said it is providing assistance to Haiti.

“Our staff on the ground is already working with the Ministry of Public Works to begin restoring access to the hardest hit areas in the south of the country, including a key bridge that was washed away. It is too early to know the full impact of the storm, as some of the most vulnerable communities live along the coast and cannot yet be reached,” said World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.

 

–end—

 

  New York

FIFTEEN JAMAICAN HIGH SCHOOLS TO RECEIVE DEFIBRILLATORS – TJB

In the wake of the tragic passing of young footballer, Dominic James, student of St George’s College, Team Jamaica Bickle (TJB), has announced an immediate donation of fifteen (15) Automated External Devices (AEDs), to schools across the island. The official presentation and training will take place on Friday, October 14, 2016 (9am-2:30PM) at JAMPRO, 18 Trafalgar Road, Kingston 10.

The Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator, Honorable, Ruel Reid, will bring opening remarks. Executives of ISSA (Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association), Principals and Sport Department Heads of the recipient schools as well as representatives of the National  Parent Teachers Association are expected to be in attendance.

Training will be conducted by experts from the Diaspora Healthcare Sector. The organization has also partnered with the Jamaica Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (JAMEMTS), based at the University of the West Indies, who will provide on-going training and support to recipient schools.

“We were in the process of sourcing defibrillators to present at a later date but in light of the recent tragedy we’ve decided to accelerate the hand-over to these schools,” said Irwine Clare, CEO and Founder of the organization.

Team Jamaica Bickle began its ‘Defibrillator to Schools Program,’ in 2014, after the sudden death of athlete, Cavahn McKenzie, at a cross-country meet in Trinidad & Tobago. That same year St. Jago was presented with an AED unit in his honor at the Penn Relays, Philadelphia. A medical area was also set up in tribute to Cavahn, with Health Care Practitioners led by the Jamaica Nurses Group of New York, providing training in first aid & CPR to athletes.

Since then, TJB has held training sessions, partnering with Jamaicans Abroad Helping Jamaicans at Home (JAH JAH) Foundation to provide base-line free heart tests to some 100 students and presented another five units to the following schools: Cornwall College, Petersfield High, Green Island High, Vere Technical & GC. Foster College of Physical Education and Sports..

It’s the organization’s goal to outfit each high school with an AED unit.

Jampro, Fly Jamaica, Tower Isle Frozen Foods, Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill and Caribbean Food Delights, have all lent their support to the program to facilitate the hand-over and training session.

Team Jamaica Bickle may be reached at 718.523.2861 or teamjamaicabickle@gmail.com. By social media: www.facebook.com/teamjamaicabickle; Twitter handle: @teamjambickle.

 RECIPIENT SCHOOLS

AUTOMATED EXTERNAL DEFIBRILLATORS (AEDs).

1.       ST. GEORGE’S COLLEGE

2.       EXCELSIOR HIGH SCHOOL

3.       CAMPERDOWN HIGH SCHOOL

4.       ST. CATHERINE HIGH SCHOOL

5.       GARVEY MACEO HIGH SCHOOL

6.       SPOT VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL

7.       YORK CASTLE HIGH SCHOOL

8.       MARCUS GARVEY COMPREHENSIVE HIGH SCHOOL

9.       CONVENT OF MERCY ‘ALPHA’ ACADEMY

10.   OBERLIN HIGH SCHOOL

11.   HERBERT MORRISON TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL

12.   ST. ELIZABETH TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL

13.   CHARLEMONT HIGH SCHOOL

14.   DINTHILL TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL

15.   MORANT BAY HIGH SCHOOL

 

–end—

 

 

NYC Council Members, Advocates, Speak Out Against Islamophobia

 Elected Officials from across the City rallied on the steps of City Hall declaring their support for the Muslim community and against continued xenophobic rhetoric.

 On Tuesday, October 11th, members of the City Council, other elected officials, religious leaders and advocates from across the City, rallied on the steps of City Hall for in support of Councilman I. Daneek Miller’s Resolution declaring “That the Council of the City of New York declares support for Muslim communities, affirms the religious pluralism of the United States, and urges all residents to stand together for peace and understanding.”

This is in conjunction with Local Progress, who has been working with other municipalities across the country to introduce Resolutions supporting Muslim communities. They have also collected over 500 signatures from elected officials for an open letter condemning bigotry, Islamaphobia, and pledging to support Muslim immigrant communities who have come under attack.

Council Member I. Daneek Miller said, “New York was founded by people seeking religious freedom and its elected body has an obligation to uphold those ideals. With the increased attacks on Muslims and Islamophobia rising across the country, it is important we continue to stand together against hate, and I am proud to have introduce Resolution 1230 declaring support for Muslim communities across the City. The New York City Council has recognized Muslims who have given back to their communities and ensured youth practicing our faith do not have to choose between going to Mosque and missing school during the Eid holidays. This is progress we can all be proud of and I would like to thank my colleagues in New York and across the country for their continued support.

“In NYC’s pluralistic society we must be especially vigilant and vocal in our positive affirmation of the values that represent our communities. Islamophobia must be whole heartedly condemned in any circumstance. I personally abhor prejudice and violence, and I commit myself to protecting the rights of everyone to live in security and peace,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

“This election cycle, we’ve seen unprecedented levels of bigotry in our national conversation and an increasing acceptance of anti-Muslim and anti-Immigrant rhetoric. It is our shared responsibility to speak out against such hate,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “Through Local Progress, an organization I’m proud to serve on the board of, elected officials across the country are uniting together to say that we refuse to accept intolerance, prejudice, and fear as a political tactic. We are determined to do our part to enrich the diversity and tolerance of our city. In the face of toxic xenophobia, racist rhetoric, a rise in hate crimes and anti-Muslim violence— together we can demonstrate the power of solidarity in creating positive social change.”

“There is no place for bigotry and hatred toward Muslims or any other religious group or race in New York City,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Progressive Caucus Vice-Chair. “We must do everything in our power to fight racism wherever we see it in our City. New York City’s reputation as this country’s largest melting pot must go on without instances of discrimination and hate.”

“Here in Queens, we know that our diversity makes us stronger,” said City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “We will not tolerate hateful, bigoted, or xenophobic rhetoric against Muslims. Instead, we will stand together as neighbors and friends and denounce anyone who tries to divide us.”

“Among the core principles of our nation’s founding is the freedom of religious expression, and those ideals will only continue to hold true so long as people of good character, faith and humility stand together to affirm them for all citizens,” said Council Member Ruben Wills. “Hateful rhetoric that increasingly threatens to desensitize everyday citizens to dehumanizing and venomous slurs has been channeled into acts of vandalism, violence, and even cold blooded murder, not only against practitioners of Islamic faith, but also Indians, Sikhs, and Bengalis. These citizens wear the uniform in defense of our community and nation, and have consistently given their lives willingly in the course of doing so. We have a responsibility to remind the public that people of every religious belief possess a Constitutional right to live in accordance with their principles without fear of intimidation, which is why I am proudly supporting Resolution 1230.”

“The North Shore of Staten Island is the most diverse council district in the city, with large communities from all corners of the globe and all faith groups. In light of the xenophobic, anti-Muslim rhetoric that has entered our national discourse, I proudly join hundreds of leaders across the country in condemning this bigotry,”said Council Member Debi Rose. “By signing this letter, I want all of my constituents to know that, regardless of their faith or national origin, I value the contributions they make to the North Shore of Staten Island.”

“We have entered a troubling time in America; one of regression in our national discourse, and an opening of old wounds by too many who seek division based on prejudice and intolerance,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “But in these trying times, those of us who have struggled through these battles to arrive at points of greater understanding and respect for one another will not allow hate to triumph. We will continue to stand strong, with love and tolerance as our tools, resolute in our constant pursuit of justice in all its forms.”

“Religious freedom is a founding principle of our democracy,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “The intolerant fail to recognize that our diversity makes us stronger as a nation. We are united not by the color of our skin or our religion, but by an adherence to the shared belief in our inherent right to live and express ourselves freely.”

“Vitriolic and racist language, against Muslims or other religious or minority groups, have no place in our democracy or any arena in American society. We must always speak out and stand up against it and seek to unite communities,”said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

 “On this day we welcome and applaud the NYC Council for introducing Resolution 1230 declaring support for Muslim communities, affirming the religious pluralism of the United States.  When we acknowledge the hardship and unfair treatment of one community, we acknowledge our shared humanity. Let this be the start to combat all the isms that exist in society for all of us to live in peace and harmony.” Dr. Debbie Almontaser, Muslim Community Network

“Local Progress is proud to be working with the New York City Council to ensure Muslims and immigrants do not feel targeted in our city,” said Sarah Johnson, Co-Director of Local Progress. “New York City has always stood for inclusion and has demonstrated over and over that diversity makes us stronger. And lawmakers across America agree, which is why more than 530 elected officials have taken a powerful stand to support Muslims, Arabs, South Asians, and Sikhs in their cities and towns. Bigotry and violence have no place in New York, and we will continue to work with lawmakers around the country to make sure we are upholding our most fundamental values.”

“Over 100 local elected officials from across New York State have joined together to condemn hatred & anti-Muslim bigotry. New Yorkers from Niagara Falls to Suffolk County are joining New York City to stand for tolerant and welcoming communities,” said Molly Clifford, Rochester Councilmember and organizing committee member of the New York State Progressive Elected Officials Network (NYS PEN), the New York affiliate of Local Progress. Councilmember Clifford is advancing a similar proclamation in the Rochester City Council in coordination with the Monroe County Legislature and the Rochester City School Board.

“This an important step in responding to violent bigotry and by passing this resolution, the New York City Council has sent a strong message to the entire community that Islamophobic rhetoric and violence has no place in the City and that the American Muslim community is not alone.” Melanie Robbins, Anti-Defamation League

“The ability to worship a Higher Power freely has been the cornerstone of our great nation. We must be vigilant and never let that right be taken away from us. Together is we engage in an atmosphere of acceptance, tolerance, understanding and live our nation will become stronger and the Constitution that we all respect and admire will become the guiding light for all our citizens no matter their race, creed, or color” said Mazaeda A. Uddin, CEO/President of South Asian Fund for Education, Scholarship & Training (SAFEST)

–end—

Jamaica

Jamaica’s  Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport has commissioned the production of statues of several track and field athletes, in honour of their outstanding contribution to the development of Jamaican track and field.

Four statues will be made of track and field stars Usain Bolt, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Asafa Powell over the next two years.

They will be mounted at the National Stadium Statue Park as part of a wider planned development of the stadium complex, which includes the National Sport Museum.

Sport Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, who provided details of the Government’s programme of activities to celebrate the nation’s Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic heroes, at Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston, said the first two statues – Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – will be completed in time for the Jamaica 55 Independence celebrations in 2017.

The statues of Veronica Campbell-Brown and Asafa Powell will be completed for the following year.

The statues will be crafted by renowned Jamaican artist and sculptor Basil Watson, who sculpted the statue for sports icon Herb McKenley.

The celebrations for the Rio heroes are slated to take place from Friday, October 14 to Sunday, October 16.

Grange told said the celebrations will be held in honour of athletes based locally and those living overseas to celebrate their accomplishments.

The activities will begin on Friday, October 14 with a reception hosted by Prime Minister, Andrew Holness on the lawns of Jamaica House.

This will be followed by the Rio Sports Gala and Awards Ceremony at the National Indoor Sports Centre on Saturday, October 15. The event will be broadcast and streamed live over the Internet.

The activities will culminate on Sunday, October 16 with the Jamaica National 5K Run/Walk. This fundraiser is in aid of charities in western Jamaica and is sponsored by the JN Group and supported by the Usain Bolt Foundation.

A reception will also be hosted at the all-inclusive resort Melia Braco Village in Trelawny, in honour of the athletes. This will commence at 7:00 p.m.

–end—

Jamaica

Finance Minister Audley Shaw, says the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency of the United States has issued a statement that provides guidance to US banks with respect to terminating foreign correspondent banking relationships.

Addressing the final day of the fifth annual Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel this week, the Finance Minister said the statement called for the establishment of a governance function to review and monitor recommendations involving foreign account termination and provided insight into the impact of cutting ties with the region and the value of such relationships to the countries involved.

“This statement has helped to open the door to greater dialogue. What we have to do now is to weave into it our own sense of duty and responsibility here in Jamaica. We know what to do, so we have to do it,” Minister Shaw said, referring to the need to bolster the regulatory framework governing the financial institutions.

He noted that financial inclusion is critical, as the Jamaican economy is built around the movement of money through tourism, remittances and trade.

The Finance Minister has indicated that the Caribbean is addressing the problem of de-risking by proactively reassuring international partners that the region’s AML/CFT regulatory framework is robust.

This is being coordinated by the Committee of Caribbean Central Bank Governors, the Caribbean Group of Bank Supervisors, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, the Caribbean Association of Insurance Regulators, and Caribbean membership of the Global Forum on the Exchange of Tax Information.

Correspondent banking involves a bank in one country facilitating certain services for a financial institution in another country, including wire transfers, business transactions, deposits and gathering of documents.

Over the last five years, a number of international banks have restricted or ended their relationship with the region due to concerns about money laundering, fraud and terrorist financing.

Caribbean countries have been collaborating to set up the regulatory environment to efficiently supervise banking and money services and to identify and manage the money laundering and terrorism financing risks in the financial sector.

They have also been lobbying banks to reconsider their decision to withdraw their services.

Mr. Shaw, who participated in the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank Group Annual Meetings in Washington DC from October 6 to 9, said he believes the regional efforts to challenge the move by banks to cut ties have been bearing fruit.

He said there was a “positive meeting” between regional leaders and the Managing Director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde in Washington, as well as the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency of the United States that issued the statement  providing guidance to US banks with respect to terminating foreign correspondent banking relationships.

The two-day Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Financing of Terrorism Conference, on facilitating discussion on strengthening compliance, was hosted by the Jamaica Bankers Association (JBA) and the Jamaica Institute of Financial Services (JIFS) under the theme ‘Understanding our obligations… Safeguarding our Future.’

 –end—

 

Bahamas

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) says “a serious situation” is developing in Haiti after it was ravaged by Hurricane Matthew last week.

“There are still five or so communities, maybe a little more, where we have not been able to establish communication. From the aerial assessment conducted, most of the buildings in that area were significantly destroyed.

“And if I may use this analogy, it is almost as if a bomb was dropped in that particular area. We’ve not heard from persons,” Ronald Jackson, the executive director of CDEMA told  the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) Wednesday night after meeting with three Rapid Needs Assessment Teams (RNAT) his agency deployed to the Bahamas last week.

CDEMA has also deployed RNATs to Haiti.

Jackson, who visited Haiti prior to his arrival here as part of a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) delegation headed by Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, told CMC that his agency recognised and is concerned about the increasing instances of cholera in Haiti.

He said that CDEMA has noted that over 200 suspected case of cholera has been reported and 72 of those had been confirmed through medial testing.

“This is something that is being looked into quite seriously and the impact on the water supply systems in that areas.”

Jackson said that the relief needs in Haiti remain very much apparent, adding that while co-ordination is happening within the capital, Port-au-Prince, there is still a need to coordinate within the departments themselves.

“And so CARICOM will be focusing on Les Cayes and Jeremy,” he said, mentioning two of the areas worst affected by the storm.

“We will be providing support to 30 per cent of the population that has been identified in at least two of these areas as being in shelter — maybe a little bit more but that is our initial target, recognising that others are supporting and as part of the recovery-reconstruction support, we want to focus also some efforts on addressing the school infrastructure.”

Jackson said more than 300 schools were damaged, resulting in over 200,000 children not able to go to school, and that is an area on which CDEMA wants to focus.

“We recognize that the water supply systems are a priority. We are going to have a dialogue with the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association to see whether or not there can be any support brought to that area, but definitely, we will be looking at relief needs,” the regional disaster management chief said.

“Mobilization around that has started, both within the context of national programme for helping Haiti, but we will also be doing something out of CDEMA as a jumpstart to that process, looking first at Les Cayes and then at Jeremy, but that situation is still one that is quiet concerning, given the numbers.

“We are looking at over 1.5 million, close to two million people who would have been directly affected by this event in the south-western peninsular,” Jackson told CMC.

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