Caribbean News – Will Global Nations Respond To UN Appeal For Saint Vincent & The Grenadines?

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This UN image from a tour of Saint Vincent on April 19, 2021, tells part of the story of the destruction to date. (UN image)

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. April 20, 2021: Which nation will be the first to step up to the plate and donate to the UN Relief effort for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines?

We will have to wait and see as the global agency launched an US$29.2 million for humanitarian assistance and recovery for volcano-ravaged St. Vincent & Grenadines today.

The United Nations launched the multi-million global funding appeal to help those affected by the eruptions of the La Soufrière volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and other impacted countries.

Map of the impacted areas. (CDEMA Image)

The appeal was launched at 9:30 AM EST by the UN Resident Coordinator in the Caribbean, Didier Trebucq, alongside St. Vincent & Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves; Regis Chapman, Head of Caribbean Sub-regional Office for WFP and Aloys Kamuragiye, Representative of UNICEF Barbados and Eastern Caribbean.

The move comes as the ongoing eruption of the La Soufrière volcano is expected to displace close to 20,000 persons or one fifth of the population. Over 12,700 evacuees are now registered in public shelters and in private homes as entire villages have been covered in ashes, buildings damaged, schools and businesses closed, crops, livestock destroyed, and residents left with limited access to clean drinking water. Further eruptions are expected in the coming weeks.

UN images from on the ground tour of April 19, 2021.

Funds raised will go towards providing immediate lifesaving humanitarian aid including cash assistance and clean water, and support a sustainable recovery, including through repairs to homes and support for livelihoods, the agency said. The UN and partners will also assess the economic, social, and environmental impact on countries affected by the volcano, supporting with ash removal and improving environmental health conditions while also continuing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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Suzan is a farmer in the orange zone of volcano La Soufriere. She is trying to recover some plantains from the ashes to make a living as most crops were devastated in northern part of Saint Vincent Island. (UN image)

“We are in a dire situation… the midnight hour of our need,” said the prime minister.  “We need a lot of money for social protection and feeding people. We’re not out of the woods. This may be 6-7 months dealing with lives and livelihoods.”

He added that damage is going to run into hundreds of millions of dollars as the country also deals with ash cleanup.

Ash covered homes in Saint Vincent. (UN Image)

“We have had an emission of ash of 100 million cubic meters so far according to the scientists,” he said, adding that they estimate there is more new material remaining – estimated at least 40 million cubic meters more.

“It is an extraordinary existential challenge,” Gonsalves said. “We are talking about the world standing up to help island civilizations.”

Ash damage all around. (UN image)

Other UN agencies supporting the effort are UN Women, UNFPA, PAHO, IOM, UNESCO, UNDP, FAO, UNOPS, UNEP,OCHR.  Director General of the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States, Didacus Jules, as well as Executive Director of Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Elizabeth Riley.

The fund launch comes as the UWI Seismic Unit said lahars have been observed in the ongoing eruption at the volcano.

CARIBBEAN DIASPORA SUPPORT

Several Caribbean Diaspora organizations have already pitched into help asSaint Vincent and the Grenadines battles the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has already devastated its economic livelihood – tourism.

Among the major organizations already hard at work since Friday April 9, 2021, is Invest Caribbean, the global private sector investment agency, founded by US-based Caribbean-born journalist, entrepreneur and long-time advocate, Felicia J. Persaud.

Persaud has teamed up with the Ritzury Group of Barbados to launch the Saint Vincent Volcano Disaster GoFundMe to help buy needed supplies to and ship them in for shelter residents before moving on to tackle the medium and long-term needs by mobilizing much of its connections to help ramp up donations and spread the word.

“This is a major disaster, the likes of which I have never seen in my lifetime,” said Persaud. “As a Caribbean born immigrant, it is imperative that we help.”

The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) issued a list of supplies needed including 30,000 blankets, 10,000 folding cots, 25,000 goggles and 1000 respirator masks with filters.

In addition to the urgent request for water the following items are also needed:

•            Water tanks (800 and 1000 gallons)

•            Buckets

•            Folding cots

•            Portable potties

•            Blankets

•            Field tents

•            Field kitchens

•            Sleeping mats

•            Respiratory masks

•            Reflective vests

•            Caution tapes

•            Hygiene kits

•            Disinfectants

•            Liquid soaps

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