UK government accused of ‘pathetic’ lack of help for Anguillans hit by Irma


Former Anguillan official Dorothea Hodge said it was disgraceful that Priti Patel had not responded more quickly to hurricane

The former UK representative to Anguilla has criticised the governments response to Hurricane Irma in British overseas territories battered by the storm, condemning the reaction as pathetic and disgraceful.

Dorothea Hodge, a former UK EU representative for the government of Anguilla, has urged the UK government to follow the example of France in responding to the hurricane, which has committed to an emergency fund and a reconstruction plan to deal with the aftermath of the storm.

Hurricane Irma, now the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history, made landfall on the islands of the north-east Caribbean on Wednesday morning, causing major flooding and damage to buildings.

Earlier on Wednesday, the international development secretary, Priti Patel, announced the deployment of three UK humanitarian experts and a British naval ship to the affected region.

Hodge told the Guardian: Its absolutely disgraceful that it has taken the whole day for Priti Patel to respond to the worst hurricane we have seen in a British territory since the 1920s.

Speaking about the effect of Hurricane Irma in Anguilla, she said: Homes have been destroyed, schools and the only hospital badly damaged, and already one death is being reported, and more is to come as there are two more hurricanes scheduled to hit Anguilla in the next few days. Anguillans are allBritish nationals, as British as the Falklands or Gibraltar.

In comparison to the French president who has set up an emergency fund, an emergency hotline and a reconstruction fund her response after the storm has passed is absolutely pathetic.

She continued: What is needed now is a commitment to an immediate effective humanitarian, response, food, water, shelter, emergency health care, and a long-term reconstruction fund to get the island back on its feet after this battering.

On Wednesday, Patel said Britain has already taken action to respond to the crisis. We have deployed three UK aid humanitarian experts to the region to help coordinate the response and positioned a British naval ship with 40 Royal Marines, army engineers, and vehicles, tents and facilities to purify water on board, she said.

Our staff are on standby, both in the UK and at post, to support any British people affected. We urge British nationals in the affected area to closely monitor and follow Foreign Office and local travel advice.

The foreign secretary Boris Johnson spoke with the chief minister of Anguilla on Wednesday evening and said the Foreign Office was in constant contact with British overseas territories.

There are tens of thousands of British people there and clearly we are updating our travel advice the whole time for people who are going there, Johnson said.

This is going to be a very big storm and we have [the landing ship] RFA Mounts Bay full of humanitarian relief supplies on standby and we will be doing everything we can to help those afflicted.

Read more: