Thursday, February 12, 2009

CARICOM calls for reform of UN aid eligibility conditions

Reprinted from Caribbean Net News

CARICOM calls for reform of UN aid eligibility conditions
Published on Thursday, February 12, 2009

GEORGETOWN, Guyana: The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General Edwin Carrington has raised concern about a plan by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to cut some Caribbean countries from having access. He also questioned the method by which countries are graduated from aid eligibility - that is, using income levels to set criteria for concessional funding.

Edwin Carrington, CARICOM Secretary General
At Tuesday’s sitting of the Fifth General Meeting between representatives of CARICOM and the United Nations (UN) System, Carrington said that UNICEF is among the UN agencies which have provided vital assistance to enhancing the capacity of Caribbean women and children to confront daily challenges.

"It is against this background that one finds it difficult to understand the threat by UNICEF, to graduate Caribbean countries such as Belize and Jamaica from the benefits of its operations". Carrington said “such action threatens to reverse the very gains that these countries have fought so hard to achieve and must now fight even harder to maintain. Moreover, the ability of these countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, as they relate specifically to women and children, would be severely threatened by such graduation," "

The CARICOM head says the issue of graduation, in its broadest sense must, in the Caribbean’s view, be revisited. “the Caribbean has long sought to impress on the international community the fact that our inherent vulnerabilities, render conventional definitions of development and consequent determinations of aid eligibility at best, inappropriate, at worst devastating, for our small states," he added.

Stressing the need for reform, Carrington pointed out that a hurricane or flood - and in the recent case of Haiti, four hurricanes within weeks of each other last September - can devastate the entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of most CARICOM countries in a matter of hours, "carrying a country from middle income to literally no income overnight".

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