European leaders have arrived in the Caribbean amid mounting criticism that they have not been quick enough to help the victims of Hurricane Irma. President Emmanuel Macron visited French territories on Tuesday including St Martin, and he promised to rebuild the islands as soon as possible, but with changes:
“I don’t want an identical reconstruction of St Martin. What has happened is also linked to the fact that the buildings were too precarious, that the supply of services (water, electricity, internet etc) was too fragile, that the planning of the housing was no longer suitable for the risk involved. And so what I want is to make St. Martin a model (for other such areas).”
L’avenir de l‘île est déjà là. pic.twitter.com/9fRhcRkECD— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) September 12, 2017
Ten tons of essential supplies including medicines arrived with Macron and he promised more would follow soon. St Martin was one of the islands hit hardest with eleven fatalities.
King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands was also in the region on the last day of a visit to see for himself the damage to the Antilles islands of Saba and St Eustatius, as well as Dutch St Maartens.
Meanwhile British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrived in Barbados on Tuesday from where he was due to travel on to British territories devastated by Hurricane Irma. Britain has faced similar criticism to France over its response to the crisis.
The UK government has faced similar complaints following the death of at least nine people people on British territories.