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‘Rebuild caribbean links’ – Appeal to British NGOs

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Non-Governmental organisations (NGOs) in Britain which are involved in international development work have been called upon to rebuild links with their Caribbean counterparts as part of a renewed commitment to the struggle for social justice in the world.{{more}}

Making the appeal in a stirring address to representatives of more than 250 of these organisations in London on Tuesday, October 21, was Chairman of the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC), Vincentian activist, Renwick Rose. He was at the time giving the keynote address at the Opening of the Annual Conference of the umbrella body for the British NGOs, BOND. His was one of two major addresses to the Conference, the other being delivered by the new British Minister for International Development, Rt. Hon. Justine Greening, who spoke in the afternoon session.

In his presentation, Rose made the historic connections between the peoples of the Caribbean and United Kingdom including the support of William Wilberforce and the Abolitionists for emancipation of Africans enslaved in the Caribbean. He traced the development of such cooperation down to modern times with the mutual collaboration of NGOs on both sides of the Atlantic and thanked organisations such as Oxfam, Christian Aid, Banana Link, and the Fairtrade Foundation for their assistance in social development. Rose also praised the valuable charity work of such organisations as the Salvation Army and the Red Cross.

Though these have been positive actions, the Caribbean activist continued, one cannot rest on one’s laurels. Indeed, he opined, one gets a sense that under the right wing assault of the last two decades, there is virtually what he called “a retreat from development”, occurring where the Caribbean is concerned. This is manifested in the difficulties in the globalised financial, trading and economic environment, the “graduation” of Caribbean countries to a false “middle-income” status and the dangerous spread of harmful distinctions between the “poorest of the poor” and the “less poor”. Rose reminded the audience that “poverty is odious, no matter the degree”.

Stressing the vulnerability of Caribbean economies and societies, not only to external economic shocks, but also natural disasters and plant diseases which have decimated agricultural production, he appealed to the NGOs not to be lulled into accepting such misleading distinctions and said that there is a sound basis for strong re-engagement between the peoples of the Caribbean and Britain. Drawing attention to BOND’s own mandate to fight for “a world of justice”, Rose challenged the delegates to rise to the occasion and to provide the type of leadership sorely needed in today’s world.

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