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(SNO) — Former Deputy Head of Mission for the Embassy of Saint Lucia in Washington DC, Peter Lansiquot, has launched the “People’s Distress Fund” to assist residents who lose their homes in fires and other disasters.
The Fund was officially launched on Wednesday, April 24 inside Wilton’s Yard, Castries (also known as ‘the Graveyard), near the spot where three houses were destroyed by fire on the night of Thursday, April 18.
Several houses were damaged by the fire which started around 11 p.m., but there were no reports of death or injuries. The cause of the fire is unknown but investigations are ongoing, according to sources.
Lansiquot also announced his “first personal donation” to the Fund.
“This is a progressive response to the government’s repeated failure to allocate resources to the Distress Fund, which normally contained about half a million dollars, and which provided significant resources to families whose homes got burnt,” Lansiquot stated in an email to the media on Tuesday.
Lansiquot, who also the former head of mission for the Embassy of Saint Lucia in Cuba and a former CARICOM diplomat, said he aims to raise $100,000 in the first month of the Fund and “to reverse the tendency for Saint Lucians to have to beg for assistance when they lose their homes overnight!”
PIERRE PLEDGES TO RESTORE DISASTER FUND
Opposition Leader Philip J. Pierre assured that when the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) returns to office, the Distress Support Fund, which was budgeted annually for the purpose of helping fire victims, will be re-instituted and the annual allocation increased, according to a statement from the country’s main opposition party in January 2019.
Pierre said the Fund, which was in the region of $500,000 yearly, was eliminated by the Allen Chastanet Administration “with no regard for the critical role that such a fund was intended to play during such events”.
He made the comments after he visited fire victims at Rose Hill on New Year’s Day.
“We have a responsibility to provide relief to the less fortunate people among us who do not have the means to provide property insurance to protect themselves from such disasters,” Pierre said.
In the statement, the SLP also expressed its “deepest sympathy” with families affected by the devastating fire which ravaged several homes in Rose Hill, Castries, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, Jan. 1, 2019.
According to the statement, Pierre, who is also SLP political leader and parliamentary representative for Castries East, visited the site of the fire, on the same day, to “view first-hand the damage suffered by the unfortunate residents of Rose Hill at a time of year when most people should be celebrating the start of a new year and looking forward with optimism to fulfilling some of their hopes and aspirations in the coming months”.
Pierre expressed “his sadness” that the Distress Support Fund which had been established by his party was removed by the present United Workers Party (UWP) government.