High-Level Meeting on Hurricane Irma
Statement by His Excellecy Dr. Mohamed Asim, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives
18 September 2017 (12:00-13:00)
Venue: Trusteeship Council
Secretary General Antonio Guterres, President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak, Excellencies, Colleagues,
First let me express my gratitude to the Secretary General and the President of the General Assembly for convening this important meeting.
We have all witnessed the heartbreaking images that came out of the Caribbean in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Our thoughts and prayers are with our Island brothers and sisters who have lost their loved ones, their homes, and their livelihoods.
Irma came ashore as a Category 5 storm and the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic. It was closely preceded by Hurricane Harvey, which dumped an astounding 33 trillion gallons of water in Texas and Louisiana.
Last year Cyclone Winston, the most powerful storm to make landfall in the Southern Hemisphere, killed scores of people in Fiji and erased decades of development gains in a matter of hours. And Hurricane Matthew, another giant storm, led to 1000 deaths in Haiti and demolished entire communities.
This is not normal. Climate change is making storms stronger and more deadly. It often seems to take a tragedy to bring about real change. I certainly hope that an outcome of this latest storm is a true reckoning with what we are facing from global warming today.
As my colleague, the Ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda told us at an AOSIS meeting recently, "We used to talk about countries being wiped away by climate change like it was a future threat. It's no longer in the future, it just happened in Barbuda."
We owe it to the victims to rebuild and also to finally take the climate change action that we have put off for far too long.