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British Overseas Territories: Coronavirus

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN HL6373, tabled on 1 July 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what (1) financial, and (2) other, assistance they have offered each of the UK Overseas Territories as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answered on

10 July 2020

The safety and security of those in the British Overseas Territories (OTs) is a UK Government priority. Multiple government departments, led by DFID and the FCO, have been working with OT Governments to respond to the pandemic.

It is first and foremost for the OTs to make full use of their financial resources in order to address their needs. The UK Government will consider requests for further support/funding on a case-by-case basis. All UK financial support is subject to robust governance and needs assessments.

To address immediate healthcare, access and security needs, FCO has reallocated £15m of 2020/21 CSSF and £5m of 2020/21 International Programme funds to COVID-19 support. DFID is providing an initial £10m from its budget to mitigate immediate non-health impacts in the three ODA-eligible OTs, and has earmarked an additional £20m to mitigate short to medium term impacts of the outbreak on these OTs.

To date, the UK Government has procured and delivered medical supplies to all the inhabited OTs (except Pitcairn, which has had no confirmed cases of COVID-19), delivered testing systems to 6 territories and boosted testing capabilities in three other OTs. Health professionals from Public Health England are providing advice and support to each OT, and the Government has supported OTs to recruit medical personnel.

MoD and Home Office have provided in-territory security support to Turks and Caicos Islands through a Security Assistance Team and an additional 29 military personnel have reinforced TCI's Maritime Police Unit to counter illegal migration. A further Security Assistance Team is supporting the Cayman Islands to assist planning on security, logistics, COVID-19 and hurricane response. RFA ARGUS arrived in the Caribbean earlier than planned to provide support to the OTs during the hurricane season; she could also provide support for COVID-19 impacts if required.

The UK Government has arranged four flights to the Caribbean, including two paid for by the Cayman Islands Government, and a flight to the South Atlantic, flying residents of the Overseas Territories home from the UK as well as repatriating British Citizens and other nationalities from the Bahamas, Bermuda, Turks and Caicos Islands, the Cayman Islands and St Helena. The Government has also repatriated people from Ascension and the Falkland Islands using regular RAF flights.