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British FM Johnson flying to Caribbean after criticism of Irma aid

Boris Johnson will visit the British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean affected by Hurricane Irma, the foreign ministry said on Twitter © AFP/File / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS

London, United Kingdom, Sep 12 – Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is flying to British territories in the Caribbean on Tuesday following intense criticism of London’s efforts to help communities devastated by Hurricane Irma.

Johnson, who has dismissed the criticism from local residents and British tourists as “completely unjustified”, will visit the affected British Overseas Territories, the foreign ministry said on Twitter.

French President Emmanuel Macron is visiting the French-Dutch territory of St Martin on Tuesday and Dutch King Willem-Alexander travelled there on Monday.

Britain has sent more than 700 troops and 50 police officers to the British Virgin Islands after Irma swept through last week. Six people have been killed in the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla.

Britain has also dispatched 10 humanitarian flights and pledged £32 million (35 million euros, $42 million) in aid for the territories, which are under British sovereignty but not part of the United Kingdom.

A handout picture released by the British Ministry of Defence shows the damage caused by Hurricane Irma in Road Town on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands © MOD/AFP/File / Cpl Timothy Jones

A British navy ship has also been assisting victims of the hurricane since last week and a second warship, the HMS Ocean, is due to set off from Gibraltar Tuesday but will only arrive in the Caribbean in 12 days’ time.

But local residents say the government was not prepared and the aid has been too slow to arrive.

The families of some British tourists stranded on St Martin have also complained that their loved ones are not being evacuated from the island.

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