The Government will give the hurricane-ravaged island of Dominica £5 million in UK aid, the International Development Secretary has announced.
Priti Patel will visit the Caribbean on Sunday, during a whistle-stop tour, so she can survey the damage caused to a number of British overseas territories that were pummelled by two major storms in close succession.
Category five Hurricane Maria ravaged the island of Dominica after making landfall on Monday, leaving 98% of buildings damaged and thousands without power – affecting almost the entire 70,000 population.
Ms Patel announced the latest wave of UK Government support as she visited HMS Ocean, which on Friday delivered 60 tonnes of UK aid to the Caribbean, almost doubling the amount of aid in the region.
She said: “The UK has pledged to give £5 million to the people of Dominica, the island worst hit by Hurricane Maria – on top of the £57 million already promised to the region – to strengthen recovery following these relentless disasters.
“I have come to the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla to see first-hand UK aid in action, helping families whose lives have been ripped apart first by Hurricane Irma and then Maria.
“The UK is leading the way in the relief effort, delivering emergency food, water and shelter to those who need it most.
“We will continue to clear up after this devastation in the weeks, months and years to come.”
During her trip, Ms Patel will meet families in the British Virgin Islands whose lives were torn apart by Hurricane Irma, and she will visit Anguilla to see UK efforts to get schools and businesses up and running to speed up recovery.
The £5 million pledge brings the British Government’s financial support for islands hit by Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma to £62 million, a sum which has gone to overseas territories including the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Turks and Caicos.
The Government is also doubling any UK public donations made to the British Red Cross’ Irma and Maria appeals, a pledge which has so far raised more than £2 million.
More than 40 tonnes of humanitarian aid has already been distributed in the region, including more than four tonnes of food and water on the British Virgin Islands; 720 litres of water to the Turks and Caicos Islands; and more than two tonnes of building materials to Anguilla.
The pledge of UK aid comes after the prime minister of Dominica formally requested international support to address the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.
It will go directly towards restoring health services and increasing access to healthcare in the most affected areas.
Britain was one of the first to arrive in Dominica following the storm, with Department for International Development (DfID) field teams immediately delivering urgent medical supplies such as insulin vaccinations and water purifiers.
The UK is working with the UN, Red Cross and other partners on the ground to distribute aid, including food, across Dominica.