UK Foreign Secretary to visit Irma-battered Caribbean islands

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London, Sep 12 (IANS) UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will embark on a visit to the Caribbean islands battered by Irma, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, on Tuesday, authorities announced.

Johnson will visit the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla, both UK overseas territories which were badly damaged by the storm that made landfall in the region on September 6, reports BBC.

The Secretary will also see the relief effort at first hand, visit affected communities and meet local governors.

His trip follows criticism from people living in the Caribbean and senior MPs that the UK’s response was too slow.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said the British government “should have acted much faster”, and those with relatives in hurricane-hit areas have said they have not been supported.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon rejected the criticism, saying the UK had responded “very quickly”, with one ship helping in Anguilla since September 7.

The UK was working with the US, France and the Netherlands, making an “international effort”, he told the BBC on Tuesday.

On Monday, Johnson said further support would soon be made available on top of the 32 million pounds ($42 million) already pledged to the relief fund.

Anguilla, Turks and Caicos, and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) are among 14 British overseas territories in the Caribbean.

So far, some 900 UK troops, 50 police and over 20 tonnes of aid have been sent to the Caribbean islands devastated by last week’s hurricane – the most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade.

At least 30 people have been confirmed dead including one in Anguilla and five in the British Virgin Islands.

Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm on Monday, after it had wreaked havoc along Florida’s west coast.

–IANS

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