Monday, 22 September 2008

Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community, His Excellency Edwin Carrington left Guyana on Friday 19 September to fulfil a hectic round of engagements in the Community and the wider world.

Mr Carrington’s first stop is Belize where he will attend ceremonies marking the 27th Anniversary of that country’s independence on 21 September and hold discussions with Prime Minister, the Honourable Dean Barrow.

From Belize, the Secretary-General will visit Haiti along with CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General Foreign and Community Relations His Excellency Ambassador Colin Granderson. They are expected to get a first hand look at the devastation wrought by the four storms which ripped through that CARICOM Member State from mid-August to early September.

Hurricane Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike all affected Haiti, causing hundreds of deaths and widespread damage to infrastructure, property and crops particularly in Gonaives and surrounding districts. Latest figures indicate that close to one million people are homeless and more than 300,000 are cut off from the rest of the country due to the destruction of roads and bridges. Food and water are desperately needed in the affected areas and relief efforts are hampered by the fact that flood waters have not yet receded while rains continue.

The Secretary-General and Mr Granderson will also meet with the Haitian Prime Minister, the Honourable Michele Pierre-Louis and other government officials during their two-day visit. Staff of the CARICOM Secretariat has joined the regional effort to provide assistance to those affected in Haiti and will be despatching much needed supplies and cash to Haiti.

Both the Secretary-General and the Assistant Secretary-General leave Haiti on 23 September for New York USA where they will attend the 63rd United Nations General Assembly. In New York there are a number of meetings in which the Community will be involved these include a Special Meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Governments, which will focus on reform of the international institutions.

CARICOM Heads of Government and their Foreign Ministers are also scheduled to meet with the United States Secretary of State on 25 September two days before the annual informal meeting of the CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) takes place on Saturday 27 September.

The Bureau of COFCOR, comprising of Antigua and Barbuda, Belize and Jamaica will meet with the Foreign Minister of Argentina on 25 September and the following day, the Community’s Foreign Ministers will participate in the 32nd Annual Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the G77 and China of which Antigua and Barbuda is chairman.

After the rounds of meetings in New York, the Secretary-General leaves for Accra, Ghana for the Summit of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of Countries (ACP) scheduled for 30 September-3 October. The Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union will feature on the agenda of the meeting, which will see participation from 79 Member States of the ACP. The Summit will be preceded by a meeting of the ACP Council of Ministers and Joint Meeting of ACP Council of Ministers and ACP Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

Following that Summit the Secretary-General will join Assistant Secretary-General Granderson at the First African Diaspora Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. This Summit will focus among other things on the need to build sustainable partnerships between the African Diaspora and the African Continent. It follows the first and second conferences of Intellectuals of Africa and the Diaspora held in Dakar, Senegal and Brasilia, Brazil in 2004 and 2006 respectively and the first African Union-South Africa-Caribbean Conference held in Kingston, Jamaica in 2005.

There were several regional consultations in preparation for the Summit with one being held in Barbados in 2007 and the leaders are expected to commit to co-operate in the political, economic and social areas outlined in a Programme of Action which will be tabled at the meeting.

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