Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 10, 2018 (SKNIS): The United States (US) Government through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative is partnering with Caribbean Governments in an effort to stem crime and violence by focusing on at risk youths and vulnerable populations through programmes that will empower them to lead better and more positive lives, which will redound to the benefit of the region in improving citizen security and creating more stable democracies. The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis stands to benefit from this initiative.
This was according to Christopher Cushing, Mission Director – Eastern and Southern Caribbean, who was at the time delivering remarks on behalf of Her Excellency Linda Taglialatela, United States Ambassador to Barbados, Eastern Caribbean, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), during the opening ceremony for the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative 8th Meeting of the Technical Working Group on Crime Prevention by Focusing on At-Risk Youth and Vulnerable Populations, held at the St. Kitts Marriot Resort on May 10.
“Since 2010, the U.S. Government, through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), has invested $437 million, towards improving citizen security in the Caribbean and addressing the root causes of crime and violence. To date, more than 30,000 youth, across the region, have participated in CBSI education and work-force development programmes, with more than $50 million allocated to support these programmes, he said. “The CBSI embodies our mutual commitment to greater shared security throughout the Caribbean. It is an initiative that works towards building the health, resiliency and safety of Caribbean countries, all important elements for sustained growth, prosperity and strong democracies in the Caribbean and the United States.”
Mr. Cushing noted the importance of the conference to the future development of youth and citizen security and said that the Technical Working Group is critical to advancing the said goal.
“Your discussions will continue to help shape the broader framework for action and bring sharper focus to the needs of the region’s youth,” added the mission director. “Over the next three days, I expect you will have robust exchanges in which you, as Caribbean leaders, learn from each other and international experts, and take the time to pause, reflect, generate new ideas, and identify concrete priorities to address challenges posed by transnational crime.”
He commented on the theme adopted for this year’s conference, which is: “Changing Social Norms Through Youth Engagement”.
“This is a timely theme and an important reminder to all of us that the change we seek cannot be achieved without the support and full participation of young people. Around the world, youth are making their voices heard and spearheading powerful initiatives to address poverty, health concerns, environmental challenges, school violence and more. Here in the Caribbean, it’s no different,” noted Mr. Cushing, adding that “the U.S. Government firmly believes in the power of youth, and has partnered with regional Governments for many years to support youth development.”
The mission director used the occasion to specifically thank and commend the Ministry of National security under the leadership of Permanent Secretary, Osmond Petty, for his commitment in ensuring that St. Kitts and Nevis was prepared to host CBSI 2018. He also thanked representatives from the participating countries for “placing the well-being of the youth at the heart” of the CBSI.
The Conference, which runs from May 10-11, will culminate with a youth rally on Saturday, May 12 starting from the Independence Square in Basseterre. Representatives are drawn from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and host country St. Kitts and Nevis. The Community Family and Youth Resilience Programme, OECS Commission and USAID are also represented.