The British Armed Forces and local police recaptured over 90 fugitive prisoners on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, BVI, on Thursday, after Hurricane Irma dilapidated its main prison last week.
The move has drawn criticism from local residents, who cite the United Kingdom’s slow evacuation and aid response to the Category 5 hurricane. It wasn’t until Wednesday that U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited the BVI and Anguilla, colonies of the United Kingdom, in order to assess damages and figure out aid options.
Several locals are critical of the “guns first, aid later” approach taken by the United Kingdom.
“The military is everywhere with machine guns,” Tortola resident Briton Claudia Knight told The Guardian.
“Everyone’s turned feral and no one’s going out without being armed.”
U.K. politicians are still debating over how much aid can be sent to their Caribbean colonies for disaster relief.
Some claim that the gross domestic product of these territories is “too high” to send the US$1 billion that residents are asking for to rebuild the region. Others, however, cite that their GDP reflects foreign tax havens on the islands, not the average salaries of residents.
Former Anguilla Attorney General Rupert Jones described the United Kingdom’s commitment to only spend US$43 million across the three affected British overseas territories – Anguilla, BVI and Turks and Caicos Islands – as “a drop in the Caribbean Sea.”
Over 95 percent of Tortola’s boats are destroyed, Sky News reported, adding that over 90 percent of the local economy depends on them. Homes on the island are completely destroyed and local residents of the island don’t have access to food and drinking water.