Climate Refugees Jeopardize Nations’ Insurability

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For several years, Caribbean countries have relied on Climate Risk Insurance as a tool for climate risk management and poverty reduction.

The impacts of loss and damage associated with climate change can set back development by potentially increasing not only the incidence, but also the severity of poverty.

By compensating for damages caused by extreme weather events, climate risk insurance helps individuals break out of a vicious circle of poverty and vulnerability.

But Prime Minister Mia Mottley says hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, and Dorian in 2019, have created a new reality for Caribbean countries – climate refugees.

“For us, our best practice traditionally was to share the risk before disaster strikes, and just over a decade ago we established the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility. But the devastation of Hurricane Dorian marks a new chapter for us because as the international community will find out, the CCRIF, as we call it, will not meet the needs of climate refugees, or indeed will it be sufficient to meet the needs of rebuilding,” Mottley told the United Nations General Assembly – the UN’s annual gathering of world leaders – being held this week in New York.

“No longer can we therefore consider this as an appropriate mechanism. We have as well to look at how best we can blend our public resources and to that extent, our country has introduced natural disaster clauses in our bonds as have other countries in the region.”

According to Sir Ronald Sanders, Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United States and the Organization of American States, what the aftermath of Dorian in the Bahamas brought into stark reality, is that the phenomenon of climate change refugees in the Caribbean is not limited to Barbuda in 2017.

He noted that in the complete decimation of Barbuda, the entire population had to be evacuated to Antigua.  Similarly, large numbers of people had to be moved from the Abaco Islands where little was left to sustain livelihoods.

“These large movements of people were possible in the Bahamas and Antigua and Barbuda because they were done within the same national jurisdiction,” Sir Ronald wrote in a recent commentary.

“Refugees from Barbuda after Hurricane Irma were accommodated on Antigua and those from the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas have been billeted in Nassau. But, had the territory of the Bahamas not been a chain of islands and had Antigua and Barbuda not been a single state, the people from the Abaco Islands and Barbuda would have had to seek refuge outside of their own national borders.”

Sir Ronald said the possibility of an entire territory being decimated cannot now be ruled out in the future.

In the 30 years prior to 2017, 1.5 million people had been affected by floods and tropical storms in Belize, Grenada, Jamaica and Saint Lucia, causing well over US$5 billion in damage.

Development assistance rules must change

Mottley is also calling for a change to the current official development assistance rules, which she says focus on Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“The Bahamas, despite its extreme vulnerability to climate change and despite the passage of Hurricane Dorian, would not have access to either grant or concessional resources as they begin the difficult task of rebuilding lives and livelihoods,” she explained.

“These rules were not developed for such as time as this and we need to change these rules that deny access to successful small countries, and we need to remove the bureaucracy attached thereto.

“But then again, if Dominica and Barbuda remain today without any meaningful assistance after Hurricanes Irma and Maria passed two years ago, we must ask ourselves if small states continue to remain invisible and dispensable to the global community,” she added.

Mottley said the pledges made for Barbuda represented less than 10 per cent of the money they needed to rebuild, and even then, they have not collected those pledges.

Similarly, she said Dominica, in the first 12 months after the catastrophe, was only able to access less than 10 per cent of the pledged funds.

“As I said in Geneva last week, the world finds it possible to apply resources to get rid of male baldness while it cannot find resources to cure malaria. These misplaced priorities will lose us the battle,” Mottley said.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Barbuda did not need $250 million to rebuild homes and infrastructure!.. the Government needed that amount to float their books.

      • He should also tell us why people who wasn’t living in Barbuda for years got home rebuilding funds and materials. Also why is it that one man got assistance for the house he was living in which is ok in my book but he also got for three of the homes he had on rent?. Sick of the blame game especially when they do what they want in Barbuda then blame the central governments

    • Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock! “Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.” – Frantz Fanon: Black Skin White Masks!

      Clearly Land Use, Uban Planning and Development is critically missing from the Discourse!

      In this the 21st Century, The International Decade for People of African Descent 2015 – 20244, some 38 years into National Independence, with data, information and knowledge just a few keystrokes away, one is confounded by the presence of so much technology dunceness! Where is the National Certified Quantity Surveyor to help those who remain in colonial purgatory, mental slavery and Dantes Inferno of a neglected education!

      “An endless task, the cataloguing of reality. We accumulate facts, we discuss them, but with every line that is written, with every statement that is made, one has the feeling of incompleteness.” ― Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks!

  2. There’s a simple reason that only a small percentage of funds have been available to Barbuda & Dominica.
    Governments around the world have got smarter, no longer will they just hand out cash and then try to explain to their taxpayers why the only people who seemed to benefit were the political class in the country that received the money, while the rest of the population remained hungry and homeless.

  3. Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock! “For the beloved should not allow me to turn my infantile fantasies into reality: On the contrary, he should help me to go beyond them.” ― Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks!

    Barbuda and Dominica You say! What of the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico – US Citizens and Dependencies! Should you wish to speak to New Orleans and the 7th Ward some 14 years since Katrina to buttress your argument and show how “Governments around the world have got smarter,”! Better yet take a quiet stroll around Perry Bay and feast you eyes on the Barrio Africanos and the Antigua Cooperative Fishermen’s Wooden Pier! Keep Hope Alive that Antigua and Barbuda are not visited in the next twenty years by the Hurricane Furies!

    “In the colonial context the settler only ends his work of breaking in the native when the latter admits loudly and intelligibly the supremacy of the white man’s values.” ― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth!

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