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St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has praised the islanders of Anguilla for their clear-up work after Hurricane Irma - and in the face of criticism to the contrary, claimed that Britain's response to the disaster had been "extremely fast".

The UK is to give an extra £25m of funding to help with the recovery effort following Hurricane Irma, Theresa May has said.

The extra funding will be in addition to the £32m already pledged by the government for the three British Territories battered by Irma.

Foreign Secretary Johnson said the UK would be there for Anguilla for "the long term" after the island's "hellish experience".

He was interviewed Wednesday by Radio Anguilla’s Keith Stone Greaves, with Chief Minister Victor banks also sitting in on the interview.

“Obviously my initial feelings were of absolute shock at seeing some of the damage. Seeing trees that just snapped off, the telegraph poles, the phone, the electricity just whacked down. So many home with their roofs off, but you know what’s impressed me is the way the Anguillan people are pulling this together,” said Johnson.

“I had a great talk last night with the Chief Minister, and I can see there is a plan to get this place back on its feet. The message I want to give everybody listening today, to all our listeners, is the UK is here. The UK is here to support. We understand that this has been an absolutely terrible time, but it’s very very impressive to see the way this community is pulling together, and our Prime Minister in the last ten minutes has just announced another £25 million for support and help in the overseas territories of the UK in the Caribbean,” said Johnson.

“Talking to the Chief Minister last night, and talking to representatives of the hospital, of the people who have been working in law and order. I’ve talked to the Commissioner of Police. I think electricity – and getting the power running in a way that is stable and reliable. I think that’s obviously going to be very very important. We’ve got to get the schools back on their feet, getting supplies of water. [I] came in last night with a huge UK plane. I know you saw it, a massive A-400 came in and we had loads of water. The other thing I think this island needs, and between me and you, honestly I think it’s a most wonderful place, but the runway is too short. And talking to the Chief Minister last night – we had a long conversation, I think He agreed that the runway could be a great project for this island,” said Johnson.

"It’s becoming more apparent that we need to be more independent in terms of our ability to access people coming into Anguilla. For our tourist industry as well, but in cases like these when for example St. Martin right next door, which is the main hub, has been destroyed. So, those are the issues. What’s important right now is to put in place those infrastructure projects which will allow us economic takeoff: port development, airport expansion solid and robust electricity services,” said Anguilla Chief Minister Victor Banks and before him, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

Ken Richards
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