Jamaica’s Ambassador to United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks, is appealing to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support the Jamaican Government’s bold efforts to establish sustainable socio-economic intervention programmes in vulnerable communities “so that we don’t allow gangs to rule those communities again”.
Addressing a USAID roundtable on the issue at its headquarters in Washington DC on July 14, Ambassador Marks stated that police action will not, by itself, provide a lasting solution to the crime problem.
She pointed out that Jamaica, with the support of bilateral and international partners, has begun an intensive campaign of social intervention focused on the most vulnerable communities, to give residents renewed hope and opportunity, and prevent criminals from taking root.
Participants listens keenly to the points raised at the roundtable discussion organised by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on the ‘Complex Crisis in Jamaica’, which was held on July 14, at the USAID headquarters in Washington, DC.
“We must address the basic needs of these communities while moving to establish sustainable longer-term opportunities for training, employment and social welfare that are sustainable,” she stated, calling for assistance for the redevelopment of downtown.
The Jamaican Ambassador noted that the “involvement of our international partners in this process is of critical importance” and pointed out that the USAID, with its track record of success in socio-economic interventions in disadvantaged communities in Jamaica, had the requisite skills, knowledge and access to resources that will ensure success of these efforts.
“Jamaica is determined to become a model for the region – both a model for economic revitalisation and economic health, and model for fighting the scourge of narco-trafficking by dismantling criminal gangs, while securing the country’s safety, security and stability. We want to make a better life for those living in Jamaica and at the same time make our own democracy even stronger,” she declared.
She observed that in forging partnerships with the region, the US has declared that it is concerned about what happens on its third border and stability in the region, particularly in Jamaica, is critical to US interests – both from a security as well as an economic perspective.
Ambassador Marks, on behalf of the Government, expressed deep appreciation for the continued involvement and partnership with the USAID, pointing to major activities undertaken to create an enabling environment for trade and investment, and building social capital through support of the education transformation programmes, while helping young people gain job-relevant skills.
The Jamaican envoy added that in the vital area of tourism development, USAID has been instrumental in providing material and technical assistance to promote sustainable use of the country’s natural resources and improve the overall management of the environment, while in the area of health, Jamaica has benefitted from healthy lifestyle programmes especially among the youth, with a focus on countering the transmission of HIV/AIDS, among others.
Among those participating in the roundtable discussions were USAID Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator, Latin America and Caribbean Bureau, Janet Ballentyne; USAID Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, Susan Reichle; and USAID Mission Director in Jamaica, Karen Hilliard.