Over the coming days the Foreign Secretary will see the UK’s huge relief effort at first hand, meet with governors and others leading the recovery work, and visit communities working to repair major damage.
The UK has a major response effort underway after the most powerful hurricane to hit the Caribbean in decades. More than 700 troops and 50 police officers are already supporting the islands and aid is being distributed across the islands.
Shelter kits provided by UK aid are being distributed in Anguilla to help those left homeless.
The kits, transported by Britain’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay, are being delivered to people in need by the Anguillan Red Cross.
Crews from RFA Mounts Bay are also today delivering UK aid including shelter, food and water to those affected on Gorda in the British Virgin Islands.
On the Island of Tortola, British military troops are delivering food and water having already helped to make the area secure, enabling aid to be delivered.
In addition, the UK has helped to distribute water bottles to 700 of the most vulnerable households affected by Hurricane Irma on the British Virgin Islands.
There are now 1,000 UK military troops in the region helping with the relief effort.
International Development Secretary Priti Patel said:
The UK government continues to deliver UK aid to the victims of Hurricane Irma as a matter of extreme urgency.
We have over 40 tonnes of DFID aid in the region, and more aid is arriving every day.
Our military troops, police officers and aid workers are doing an amazing job on the ground, to get vital supplies to those who need it most.
To suggest the UK reacted slowly and is not doing enough is just plain wrong. We are leading the way, and other countries, are now coming to us for help.
In addition to providing support on the ground, the UK Government is working closely with affected governments to continue to understand what assistance is needed to ensure the right aid is getting to the right place.
Yesterday, International Development Secretary Priti Patel spoke to the Governor of the Virgin Islands, Augustus Jaspert, to discuss emerging needs on the island. Earlier today she briefed the Cabinet on these latest developments.
HMS Ocean, which was loaded in Gibraltar with 5,000 hygiene kits, 10,000 buckets and 500,000 water purification tablets, is due this evening to be deployed to the region.
The government has made £2.5 million available to the Pan American Health Organisation to ensure critical health services are provided in the region, and to reduce the risk of disease spreading.
This is part of the £32 million it has so far pledged to the relief effort.
DFID has deployed 18 staff in total to the region, including to Turks and Caicos, using British expertise to provide urgent relief to those in need and support efforts to restore infrastructure.
The UK Government is being supported by companies in the private sector, including:
Thomson and Thomas cook who have delivered over 8,000 buckets on commercial flights
Virgin, who offered free transport to dispatch relief items including 1776 shelter kits, to Antigua yesterday.
Today, we expect another 288 kits to fly the same route with them.
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