72 UNGA: Statement of Cuba at the High-Level Event on Hurricane Irma. New York, 18 September 2017

Mr. President of the General Assembly,

Distinguished Representatives of the Caribbean Nations,

Gentlemen of the General Secretariat,

Dear Ministers and Heads of Delegations, representatives of agencies of the United Nations System, delegates and guests,

We are deeply grateful for the convening of this meeting, at such a difficult time for the countries affected by the destructive hurricane Irma.

Cuba expresses its sincere condolences to the relatives of the deceased and to the victims, to the people and authorities of all the affected territories.

The hurricane hit Cuba for more than 72 hours and particularly struck almost the entire north coast of the country. Virtually no territory of the archipelago was exempt from its effects. Despite the large number of preventive measures undertaken, we suffered the loss of 10 human lives.

It has been a really hard blow. The sectors of housing, agriculture and the electro-energetic system, among others, were seriously damaged.  The fruits of years of intense work of our people were erased by hurricane Irma in a few hours.

But the hurricane did not break the spirit of resistance of Cubans. As President Raúl Castro Ruz said in his message to our people in the recovery stage: "our people are reborn with every adversity."

As has been customary throughout the Cuban Revolution, all necessary resources will be used to ensure that no one is left unprotected.

Mr. President,

I would like to seize this opportunity to express our appreciation for the many expressions of solidarity and offers of help received from numerous governments, parliaments, international organizations and the civil society.

We reiterate our solidarity and willingness to cooperate, to the extent of our modest possibilities, with the brotherly peoples and governments of the countries affected by the hurricane. In Antigua and Barbuda, there were already 54 Cuban health workers, who were joined by specialists and technicians in electricity networks after the passage of the hurricane. All of them are contributing to the country´s recovery. I mention this merely to argue a call to prioritize, in mobilizing international aid, those States and territories that, due to their small size, small population and limited capacity to generate their own resources, will face the greatest challenges in recovering after hurricane Irma.

As rightly said, this fact among other events reveals the priority that addressing climate change represents for humanity, under the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities, and in particular the need for a special and differentiated treatment to small island states such as Cuba's sister nations now severely affected.

Thank you very much.

Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations.