The United Nations Secretary General António Guterres arrived in Antigua today, as part of a two day tour to hurricane battered Barbuda & Dominica.
The Secretary General was greeted at the V.C. Bird Int’l Airport by the Prime Minister, Hon. Gaston Browne, His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams, the Governor General of Antigua & Barbuda, Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Baldwin Spencer and several other government officials.
Prime Minister Browne, following the passage of Hurricane Irma had declared Barbuda “uninhabitable” and said he is hoping that the visit by the UN Secretary General will help with the call for support for the rebuilding of Barbuda as our nation is already cash strapped and it would cost about US$250 million to rebuild the island that has been set back 20 years.
PM Browne said that the Secretary General’s visit will bring global awareness to the destruction that has taken place in the small islands of the Caribbean.
Guterres, during his welcome remarks said that it is clear that natural disasters have intensified in recent years, making reference to the passage of tropical storm Nate that killed several people in Central America this week.
“It is clear there is a direct link between climate change and the intensity of these storms,” he said, adding “what we are witnessing these days are more intensity and more destruction.”
PM Browne, Chairperson of the Barbuda Council, Knacyntar Nedd, along with UN officials and other government officials accompanied the Secretary General on his tour of Barbuda earlier today.
Upon his return to Antigua, the Secretary General was given a tour of the shelter at NTTC where he observed living conditions, asked questions and socialised with the Barbudan residents staying at the shelter, and attended a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister shortly after.
Guterres is due to visit Dominica on Sunday, where Hurricane Maria left at least 28 people dead, many missing and billions of dollars in damage.