On 10-11 July, the United States William J Perry Centre for Hemispheric Defence Studies co-hosted a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response Seminar with US Southern Command and the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) at the Hilton Barbados.
The event brought together participants from 18 Caribbean and South American countries, as well as British, Canadian, Dutch, and French partners. The seminar provided an opportunity to consolidate lessons learned from the 2017 hurricane season and to prepare Caribbean, partner nations, and US humanitarian assistance forces for the 2018 hurricane season.
Opening remarks were provided by Gayle Francis-Vaughn, Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Home Affairs, and Ronald Jackson, CDEMA Executive Director. During the seminar panels and round-table discussions, participants gained an understanding of partner nation procedures, capacities, and gaps in humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts. The forum also provided an opportunity to strengthen regional coordination for mitigation, management, and coordinated response to natural disasters. Last year’s hurricane season highlighted the need for an international approach to disaster preparedness and response. This seminar served to further forge and strengthen relationships that will ultimately help achieve this approach that will be critical to future response efforts.
During the closing remarks, Ambassador Taglialatela expressed her gratitude for the work that’s been done over the past year to synchronise the collective lessons learned in the region and to improve disaster preparedness. She stated that her hope is “we identify strategies to bolster our areas for improvement, and further build on existing friendships, so that when we are faced with a disaster, we know how and where to turn for support.”
US Embassy, Barbados