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This approach was outlined by the National Security Advisor, (Ret.) Major General Stewart Saunders, while appearing on Monday’s (August 19) edition of the radio programme “Straight Talk” hosted by the Honourable Ian Patches Liburd on WINNFM.

Major General Saunders publicly refuted claims being purported by the Opposition that gang members are being paid to keep the peace. He indicated rather that the holistic approach taken by the Team Unity Government includes the approval of an Alternative Lifestyle Pathway Fund which involves engaging at-risk and marginalized individuals in properly structured legitimate activities.

“This particular fund is administered by the Development Bank of St Kitts and Nevis. It provides finance and capital and technical assistance needed by the poor, disadvantaged and marginalized groups who want to engage in business activities and whose projects or proposals have been approved. It allows qualified parties to realize legitimate endeavors and take ownership of their actions. It provides loans to qualified recipients, and grants to designated and identified community projects. Essentially what it is set up to do is to provide capacity for poverty reduction which is a critical component. It is to be a catalyst that fosters an alternative lifestyle to crime and violence while advocating and upholding civility. It generates maximum employment opportunities and reinforces a culture of business ownership, industriousness, legitimate endeavors amongst the target groups,” NSA Saunders explained.

For example, Major General Saunders said, “People have basically entered into agreements to clean up community areas and that sort of thing and those are being done based upon market prices payments effected after the job has been verified to have been done to a satisfactory standard.”

The National Security Advisor added that another element of the systematic approach to reducing the incidences of crime and violence is the provision of assistance to victims of these violent acts.

He noted that it was critical that victims of violence were not left out of the equation “when you are trying to deal with them from a social intervention perspective.”

“What we are hoping to do is to provide certain types of services … psychological or psychiatric services, counseling, conflict resolution type services or sessions that will help these people to overcome the trauma they have gone through,” the NSA said.

The increased state of calm throughout the country is having a positive impact on all sectors in St. Kitts and Nevis, including the business community and the tourism sector. Additionally, citizens and residents are now going about their daily routines with greater peace of mind as they feel safer and much more secure as a result of the Peace Initiative.

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