EU pledges $350 million to Caribbean

BRUSSELS — The European Union pledged 300 million euros ($352 million) to the Caribbean islands on Tuesday, as the region rebuilds after consecutive Category 5 hurricanes hit in September. The storms impacted the majority of the Caribbean’s population and 39,000 children remain in need of assistance.

The EU announcement came during a Tuesday morning pledging conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York, with initial reports suggesting at least $1.4 billion had been raised in total. The conference comes amid ongoing debates about how aid is sent to the islands, and who is eligible to receive it.

About one-third of the European support will be new grants from the reserve of the European Development Fund, according to the European Commission, while the rest is made up of prior commitments under the EDF.

The commission said some money will go toward short-term humanitarian relief in Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, and Cuba, but most will support medium-term reconstruction and rehabilitation in those countries, as well as in Antigua and Barbuda and the overseas countries and territories (OCTs) of EU member states in the Caribbean.

OCTs, such as the British territories of Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands, may receive funding under the EDF, whereas Saint Martin, which is an outermost region of the EU, is eligible for EU Solidarity Fund assistance. The commission is in contact with French authorities on this application, which must come from Paris.

Caribbean representatives pointed out that this creates a situation in which Sint Maarten, an OCT of the Netherlands, is eligible for development assistance under EU rules, but Saint Martin, with which it shares an island, is not.

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