Hurricane response: FCO has lessons to learn, says Committee

07 March 2018

Government should have been better prepared to assist the UK’s Overseas Territories in the face of hurricanes Irma and Maria, says the Foreign Affairs Committee in its Report: The UK’s response to hurricanes in its Overseas Territories, published today.

International strategy for disaster relief needed

The Committee calls for an international strategy for disaster relief for the Overseas Territories in the Caribbean, which are frequently hit by hurricanes.

The UK response to the hurricanes was heavily dependent on the UK’s naval assets. Discussions over the future surface fleet need to take account of the vulnerability of the Overseas Territories, say the MPs.

Chair's comments

The Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat MP, said:

“The work of all those involved in the rescue efforts in the immediate aftermath of the hurricanes and since, are to be commended. However, ministers need to offer the UK’s Overseas Territories a more structured response in any such future event.

"The Overseas Territories in the Caribbean were known to be vulnerable to the risk of hurricanes. With six territories in relatively close proximity, the FCO should have an agreed, collaborative, international strategy ready to go.

"Access to development aid, help with recovery, resilience-building activity – there is still much to be done by the Government.

"The FCO should also consider whether the relationship between Government and the UK’s Overseas Territories requires attention. The Committee intends to return to this issue later this year."

Further information

Image: Russell Watkins/DFID

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