BARBADOS TODAY – Prime Minister Mia Mottley has called for two emergency ships to be stationed in the Caribbean to provide rapid response to countries in the aftermath of a disaster.

She urged the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on Monday to work with the international community to have those ships pre-positioned in the north and the south of the region.

“We need a recovery ship. Islands don’t have the benefit of road networks to deliver quickly and in some instances, [airport] runways will be destroyed in disasters,” Mottley said as she addressed the live-streamed regional launch of the United Nations Early Warnings for All Initiative (EW4ALL) for the Caribbean.

“There are ships that flow and go around the world; some are hospital ships but we need more than a hospital ship because we need a ship to provide fresh water immediately after a disaster,” she added, insisting this was particularly critical to prevent cholera outbreaks.

The Barbadian leader also reiterated the need for small island developing states to be able to access funding at cheaper interest rates, especially in light of the growing debt they have taken on to deal with the impacts of climate change.

“We also need to recognise that having arbitrary numbers for debt sustainability in the context of small islands developing states does not work. We’ve been doing coastal preparation since the 80s.

Part of our debt is, in fact, to prevent the worst to our coastal environment. For every dollar of prevention, you save seven dollars in recovery expenditure, we know that.

But when you are then told that your debt-to-GDP does not admit of you spending enough money to renew a school infrastructure that is more than 150, 200, 250 years in some instances, how then do you provide the support systems for people to be relocated both pre- and in many instances, post-disaster?

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