Embassy of Jamaica Mobilises Support for Hurricane Victims


The Embassy of Jamaica in Washington is continuing to reach out to the Jamaican community, and Americans at large, to update them on the devastation caused to the island by Hurricane Ivan, and to solicit assistance.
The Mission has been designated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade as the main emergency co-ordinating hub for North America, regarding events in the island in the aftermath of the hurricane.
On Friday last week, the Embassy established an emergency phone bank, which fielded calls from anxious Jamaicans, as well as Americans with relatives who were tourists in Jamaica, or expatriate workers on the island.
In addition, the office of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) in Washington also maintained contact with broadcast and print media throughout the United States and maintained a website for the Jamaican embassy, which frequently posted updates regarding the situation on the ground.
Embassy staff and members of the local Jamaican community in Washington also assisted in manning emergency phones at the mission throughout the weekend, and were also very critical to the process of communicating timely and detailed information, regarding developments on the ground, to the Jamaican community and the American public in general.
For his part, the Jamaican Ambassador to the United States, Professor Gordon Shirley, has publicly recognized the Jamaican community in the US for “its strong sense of community and loyalty to Jamaica”, and praised those who had pledged assistance and supported the Embassy’s outreach initiative.
Ambassador Shirley said that he was touched by the many expressions of support, the deep sense of patriotism of Jamaica in the overseas community, and the desire to rally to the aid of Jamaica in times of national crisis.
“The community’s many expressions of concern and its tremendous response to appeals for support clearly underscore the characteristic generosity of the Jamaican people, both at home and abroad,” he said.Since Friday last, Ambassador Shirley has conducted several interviews with major American media, such as NBC News, ABC News and Fox Network.
The Ambassador used those forums to explain to the broader American public the extent of the devastation occasioned by Hurricane Ivan, and he also outlined the challenges which continue to face the Jamaican people in providing relief to destitute Jamaicans and others affected by the storm, as well as to rebuild critical infrastructure that has been compromised by the hurricane.
He also held an emergency meeting with heads of community organizations in the Washington area to update them on the situation on the ground and sharing with them basic requests regarding emergency relief equipment and supplies which were forwarded by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and emergency Management (ODPEM).
Ambassador Shirley was expected to meet with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank today (September 15), to update them on the situation on the ground and to also acquaint them with areas in which they can be of assistance.
On Thursday (September 16), he will journey to Philadelphia, where he will address a meeting of the Jamaican community in the city, along with the Jamaican Honorary Consul in Philadelphia, Dr. Alston Meade. He will brief Jamaicans in Philadelphia on relief activities and to explore, with community leaders, ways in which needed assistance can be channeled to the island to assist those who have been left destitute by Hurricane Ivan.

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