by Linda Straker
- US ambassador to welcome USNS Comfort in Grenada
- USNS Comfort medical services mission runs 15 – 20 September
Linda Taglialatela, United States Ambassador to the OECS and Barbados will be among officials who will be welcoming the USNS Comfort when it berths in Grenada on 15 September 2019 for a free medical services mission that will conclude on 20 September.
“Beside representatives from the Government of Grenada, I look forward to welcoming the USNS Comfort to Grenada personally on 15 September and to the services they will provide to citizens of Grenada in the week that follows,” she said. The ambassador is presently in Grenada on official business which among other things includes a townhall style meeting with citizens of the United States on 4 September 2019.
“The 2019 USNS Comfort deployment is one way the United States is honouring our promise of support for not only the people of Venezuela, but for citizens of countries throughout the Western Hemisphere,” she said in an interview.
The ship is on a five-month multinational medical assistance mission and at its completion will have made 14 port calls in 12 countries throughout South and Central America and the Caribbean including Grenada, St Lucia, and St Kitts.
“The United States is a friend, partner, and trustworthy neighbour to the Caribbean and the USNS Comfort’s return to the region is a reflection of our partnership. This is a collaborative effort,” she said, explaining that the USNS Comfort’s medical teams will be side-by-side with local medical professionals from the three countries and will provide care on board and at land-based medical sites. “We are committed to increasing regional collaboration and partner nation capacity to provide medical assistance and disaster relief – a high priority for the Eastern Caribbean,” she added. “Our cooperation in disaster preparedness and resilience is at the forefront. However, economic development, security, and other issues will occupy much of my time here as well.”
The ambassador reminded that the region is traditionally in the hurricane season and a number of Caribbean countries have been impacted by the passage of Hurricane Dorian which was in a tropical storm stage when it hit the southern Caribbean islands of Barbados and St Lucia.
In response to a question about the amount in new aid which has come to the region since the Trump administration took office in January 2017, and the areas receiving the assistance, the ambassador did not provide specific data, but shared the amount agreed to nine years ago.
“Since 2010, the US Congress has appropriated nearly $617 million for the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), a shared security partnership with the Caribbean that supports efforts to reduce illicit trafficking, increase citizen security, and promote crime prevention,” she said. “To date, US financial assistance supported initiatives focused on security, diplomacy, open trade, prosperity, energy, education, natural disaster preparation and resilience, youth empowerment, and health.”