After visiting the storm-ravaged Abaco on the weekend, United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “horrified” by the destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian.
Dorian tore through Abaco on September 1 with sustained winds of 185 miles per hour and gusts of 200 miles per hour.
Although it weakened to a Category 4 storm one day later, Dorian still pummeled Grand Bahama as well.
During a press conference on Saturday, Guterres said, “I just came back from Abaco and I must say I was horrified.”
He continued, “I’ve never seen such a level of systematic devastation. The hurricane, Dorian, has been classified as a Category 5. I think it’s a ‘category hell’ but [it] was not powered by [the] devil.”
The secretary general said Dorian was unlike previous storms because it was “powered by climate change”.
He also predicted “more intense” and “more frequent” hurricanes as a result of climate change.
Guterres said countries like The Bahamas that do not contribute to climate change, deserve assistance from the international community when they are forced to bear the brunt of disasters fueled by climate change.
“It’s very important that the international community learns two things from the example of Abaco and Grand Bahama,” he said.
“First, we need to stop climate change. We need to make sure that we reverse the present trend where climate change [is] running faster than what we have.”
Guterres added, “…[They] deserve international support to be able to fully respond to the humanitarian emergency, but also for the reconstruction and rebuilding resilience of their communities on that island.”
He said the UN is working in “close cooperation” with the Bahamian government.
“The international community is not here to replace the government,” Guterres said.
“It is here to support the government.”
He added, “One of the aspects in which we will be ready to cooperate with the government is in relation to [hurricane shelters]. That is probably the biggest need in the short time, but obviously it would be under the government’s direction and the government’s leadership.”
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice