BVI Diaspora in UK and US Supporting Recovery after Hurricane Irma

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Published on October 09, 2017 with No Comments

Town Hall Meeting at BVI London Office

Town Hall Meeting at BVI London Office


LONDON, England — The British Virgin Islands diasporas in the United Kingdom and United States have expressed their unwavering support for the BVI’s recovery after Hurricane Irma and the importance of their input into plans for reconstruction and their participation in the process.

At town hall meetings organised in partnership with the BVI London Office in the UK in Manchester on October 3 and London on September 15; and also in New York on September 19, members of the BVI diaspora discussed their plans to assist ongoing relief efforts through supplies drives and fundraising events.

“The BVI communities in the UK and US have been doing everything in their power to assist relief efforts and are planning more events and fundraisers to support the territory’s recovery. An international BVI diaspora network will certainly be of great value to the territory as we rebuild,” said Benito Wheatley, director of the BVI London Office, who attended the various town hall meetings.

In London, Premier Dr Orlando Smith updated the town hall meeting by phone on the government’s recovery efforts and commended the diaspora for their support.

The members of the diaspora in the UK and US also discussed ways in which they could assist the territory in the reconstruction process with their training, professional experience, business networks, financial resources and innovative ideas.

Commenting on the BVI diaspora’s engagement at the town hall meetings, Wheatley said, “I was moved by how committed BVIslanders in the UK and US are to the BVI and impressed at how well they have already organised themselves in cities such as London, Manchester and Bristol in the UK; and in the US in New York, Washington, DC, Atlanta and in North Carolina. There is a deep desire by our communities abroad to be directly involved in recovery and reconstruction.”

“They see reconstruction not simply as a process of rebuilding, but an opportunity to set a new vision and course for the BVI. They desire an official platform by which to feed in their ideas into planning and by which to participate in the reconstruction process so they can help to make the BVI better than before for its people,” he added.

Meanwhile, Wheatley successfully concluded attendance of a round of conferences of the major United Kingdom political parties to build support for the British Virgin Islands’ recovery and reconstruction after Hurricane Irma, which ended at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester between October 1-4.

BVI London Office Director Benito Wheatley (L) and UK International Development Secretary Priti Patel

BVI London Office Director Benito Wheatley (L) and UK International Development Secretary Priti Patel

The territory’s UK representative engaged a number of UK government ministers, including International Development Secretary Priti Patel, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. He also engaged the UK Parliament’s chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in the House of Commons Tom Tugendhat.

“It was essential to attend the conference to update attendees on the BVI’s recovery and the importance of the territory’s reconstruction with UK assistance. There is clearly political support for the BVI in the ruling party,” Wheatley said.

He also attended the Labour Party Conference in Brighton from September 24-27, where he engaged senior members of official opposition party, as well as the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who expressed their support for the BVI. Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry earlier stated her support for the BVI’s recovery and reconstruction in the lead up to the party conference.

In addition, Wheatley attended the Liberal Democrats Party Conference in Bournemouth from September 16-19, where he engaged party leader Vince Cable and other senior party members who expressed support for the BVI’s recovery after Hurricane Irma.

Commenting on his attendance at the various UK political party conferences, Wheatley said, “I am very pleased that there is cross-party support in the UK for the BVI’s economic recovery and reconstruction. We have been able to effectively communicate the extent of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma in the BVI and the importance of UK support for the territory in the near and long-term.”

SOURCE:  Caribbean News Now




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