The Cayman Islands and its sister Caribbean UK territories are included in the roll-out of an emergency EU10 million ($KY8.8 million) fund to support their efforts in the fight against COVID-19.
The EU says the programme was established against the backdrop of overwhelmed public health systems across the OCTs, and “jarringly deepening social and economic crises in most Territories”.
The UK OTs in the region are included as Brexit is still is the transition phase until December 31st.
The funds are being funnelled through the EU’s RESEMBID (Resilience, Sustainable Energy and Marine Biodiversity) COVID-19 Resilience Response programme with a ‘fast-track’ disbursement component.
The Facility is funded by the European Union under the 11th European Development Fund, and is a component of its regional RESEMBID Programme.
It's being managed by Expertise France, the French government’s development cooperation agency.
According to Fabian McKinnon, RESEMBID’s Programme Director, the programme was set up in light of “crushing pressure” that the increasing number of cases and mortality are placing on the public health systems of the OCTs, on vulnerable groups and on the capacity of Governments to manage and respond.
He said, “In these exceptional circumstances, and as the outbreak began to gather pace and rapidly internationalise, our team at RESEMBID quickly set out to explore ways and means of leveraging our Programme in order to come to the support of the OCTs at this terribly trying time.”
It has been pointed out that while the new facility is an integral part of the ongoing RESEMBID Programme, it does not displace any strategic or functional aspect of the existing Programme, that the allocated funds are geared specifically towards financing COVID-19 Resilience response actions across the twelve OCTs.
Highlighting the simplified approval procedures, McKinnon further noted, “We crafted it [the Facility] as a purpose-designed, fast-track, flexible response tool for the OCTs to confront the multiple challenges of responding to the pandemic.
"Its aim is to be very quick and flexible, whilst affording each Territory maximum control and latitude in determining their needs and requests. We will do our utmost to support the OCTs.”
Speaking on the European Union’s decision to support the new “fast-track” Facility, Karel Lizerot, Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union in Guyana cited the convenience of having a pre-existing resilience-based programme already operational within the OCTs.
Referring to the recently concluded RESEMBID formulation missions to all twelve OCTs, Lizerot said, “To have Expertise France and RESEMBID already up and running, and comprehensively covering all the Caribbean OCTs in a way that is very much based on listening, and taking care of their needs, has been very encouraging.
The EU notes that while most governments have already implemented drastic measures to prevent the community spread of COVID-19 to avoid a complete collapse of local public health systems, it acknowledges that the socioeconomic fabric of the OCTs, are today being tested in ways previously unimaginable.
Explaining the flexibility of the RESEMBID programme to incorporate funding for COVID-19 efforts, Karen Lizerot said while the programme was more based on climate change resilience, “it was also contractually and procedurally relatively easy for the European Union to reorient it towards the health resilience.”
“Prior COVID-19, I had my questions about how we were we going to set up a truly regional approach among twelve OCTs, that are very diverse – different languages, different systems, different geography.
“However, I think now is really a good time to actually come together, and be one front against COVID-19 – all of the OCTs because COVID does not discriminate.”
The RESEMBID COVID-19 Resilience Response Facility is now deployed across the twelve OCTs, under a fast-track expedited procedure, with priority actions to be determined by each country or territory, consistent with local needs.
The twelve participating OCTs are Anguilla, Aruba, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Montserrat, Saba, Saint Barthélemy, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, and Turks and Caicos Islands.
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