BVI News

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Special help coming for low-income, single-parent families

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith

While announcing a partnership with the BVI Red Cross, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith has said residents living in low-income or no-income households will be able receive special assistance in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

He said households with infants under the age of five as well as households with residents over the retirement age will also qualify to receive this assistance.

He said the initiative is being rolled out under the Ministry of Health and Social Development’s recently-implemented Household Assistance programme.

“They (the ministry) are partnering with several NGO’s and International Agencies such as the Department for International Development (DFID) to ensure that displaced residents can resettle. As part of this programme, the Ministry has also partnered with the Red Cross to provide further assistance to vulnerable households such as families with low or no income, families with children under 5 and those with persons over the age of 65, single parent families and households with members with severe health issues or disabilities,” Dr Smith explained.

These vulnerable households will have to register in order to get the help.

Smith, in the meantime, said his government has also forged new and long-standing alliances with other organisations which he said are committed to helping with recovery efforts.

“These partners have been high profile private residents and businesses, regional and international NGOs and response agencies, as well as service groups such as our Rotary Clubs. Rotary has played a vital role in supporting logistics and coordinating various groups that have come to our aid.”

Smith said some of these partnership will see a much-needed contingent of experts being lent to the territory.

“On Thursday, my team and I had productive meetings with the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean who will be assisting us by providing a large team of technical persons to help undertake a detailed damage and loss assessment across all sectors. This will be undertaken in the coming weeks,” Premier Smith said who is also Minister of Finance.

As it relates to funding for continued recovery of the hurricane-ravaged British Virgin Islands, Dr Smith said: “Funds from insurance coverage will assist across sectors in the redevelopment of both public and private properties. We are seeking to utilise grants and donations that have been pledged and some already received for relief and response efforts and supporting health initiatives. Grants from international partners will help with the reconstruction of schools, agriculture and fisheries industry, and health services,” said Dr Smith.

“We will also be seeking financing on concessionary terms to develop our primary infrastructural needs further and providing housing for residents,” he added.

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