OECS – international aid packages roll out for St Vincent and the Grenadines


By Caribbean News Global contributor

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent — At an emergency meeting, Monday, April 12, 2021, on the situation with the La Soufrière volcano in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the OECS Authority, chaired by the prime minister for the Commonwealth of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, reassured the solidarity of the OECS Member States and emphasized the critical needs of the island as well as the ability of Member States of the OECS to assist St Vincent and the Grenadines.

La Soufriere Scientific update – 12/04/21 6:00 pm

  1. The pattern of seismic activity changed again, with the end of the episodes of high-amplitude tremor 2-8 hours apart.
  2. Three episodes of tremor have been recorded since 6 am, two of them lower-amplitude and the third, at about 5 pm, was high- amplitude.
  3. The episodes continue to coincide with periods of enhanced venting or explosive activity
  4. A reconnaissance of the entire north coast of St. Vincent from Chateaubelair to Georgetown with assistance from the Coast Guard.
  5. Observations made indicate that pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) had descended several valleys on the southern and western flanks of the volcano and had reached the sea at Morne Ronde, Larikai and Trois Loupes Bay.
  6. Extensive damage to vegetation was noted in an area extending from Larikai Bay to Turner Bay on the west coast.
  7. No other areas along the coast had been affected by PDCs but villages located on the eastern flank of the volcano had been affected by heavy ashfall.

Explosions and accompanying ashfall, of similar or larger magnitude, are likely to continue to occur over the next few days with the chance of PDCs occurring.

UK rapid crisis funds

On Monday, April 12, the UK announced that “The rapid crisis funds will help provide lifesaving humanitarian supplies like shelter, sanitation kits and protective equipment. Urgently needed technical experts will support relief efforts on the ground, support emergency telecommunications, and restore critical lifeline facilities, like transport links,” in addition “The UK has provided an initial £200,000, via the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to support the regional response, through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), FCDO said in a press release. “The UK will continue to work with the CDEMA and other agencies to assess the need for further support.”

Government of Montserrat

Montserrat’s premier Joseph E. Farrell, said, “Cabinet agreed on a financial contribution of $150,000.00 and members of Cabinet also reviewed the list of items available locally to provide relief to St Vincent and the Grenadines. The logistical arrangements will now be made to send the items to include cots, blankets, water purifying  tablets,  portable water bottles, wheel barrows and push-brooms, to the island.”

Montserrat previously provided technical support before the eruptions began on April 9. Scientists from the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) joined their colleagues from the UWI Seismic Research Centre in St Vincent to monitor the La Soufriere volcano, in January.

Guyana is mobilising

His Excellency Dr Irfaan Ali said that the support for St Vincent and the Grenadines will be continuous. A request was made for black tanks to store water. We have added a lot of food items to that—rice, sugar, beans … cleaning materials, personal protective gear, masks. As it relates to the possibility of offering the option of temporary relocation for distressed persons, president Ali said that there has been no request along that line so far. We are in contact with the Honourary Counsel.

St Kitts – Nevis

Prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis Dr Timothy Harris has pledge EC$1 million to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The relief pledge includes financial support as well as humanitarian support will provide the following assistance measures:

  1. Financial assistance in the sum of EC$1 million to assist with the evacuation and resettling of his citizens and residents from the danger zone around the volcano;
  2. Welcome families of two or three members evacuated from the danger zone totaling not more than three hundred persons. Our technical team will determine the requirements for entry including COVID-19 protocols such as vaccination;
  3. Provide human resources through the Regional Security System (RSS) recruited from the Defence and the Police Forces to support humanitarian activities, provide technical support, and conduct peacekeeping efforts on the ground in St Vincent and the Grenadines;
  4. Immediately release to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) the sum of US$20,000 towards its Special Emergency Assistance Fund in order to bring immediate relief to St Vincent and the Grenadines and support its logistical operations; and
  5. Our National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has been tasked with coordinating the National response to the Needs List provided by the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Further details will be provided by NEMA.

The World Bank disbursed US$20 million to support the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ response to the crisis posed by the La Soufrière volcano eruption.

Our hearts are with the people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines during this crisis,” said Tahseen Sayed, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean. “We are committed to supporting the response efforts at this critical time when the country faces this new disaster while already managing the social and economic effects of the pandemic.”   

Member States of the OECS pledged their support

At the emergency meeting of the OECS Authority, Monday, April 12, prime minister Gonsalves concluded that “in the north, 40 percent of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ agriculture was decimated, and income support, as well as infrastructural recovery, was needed immediately,” OECS media release, continued.

Prime minister Gonsalves confirmed the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) had been coordinating with the Development Partners and the United Nations, who would be assisting with the Needs Assessment.

The government of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela had donated the use of a vessel to collect supplies and other resources along the island chain in the Eastern Caribbean and the vessel was already en route with resource personnel and relief supplies.

Prime minister Gonsalves confirmed the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres had reached out to him, pledging support through the UN Southern Command and reiterated the need for all assistance to the island to work with the systems in place in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

  • Dr Keith Mitchell, prime minister of Grenada, confirmed the Government had already dispatched a large quantity of water via a water truck shipped on Sunday, April 11, 2021.
  • Prime minister Allen Chastanet confirmed Saint Lucia had water supplies awaiting dispatch to St Vincent along with collections to date in terms of non-perishable foods. The government of Saint Lucia had activated its Overseas Missions to help coordinate donations for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. There would be a coordinated effort on the arrival of supplies to St Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia offered that an inventory of supplies would be created and held for them.
  • Montserrat reiterated the support and the importance of managing the situation well given their own experience a mere two decades ago.
  • Prime minister Gaston Browne reaffirmed the support of the government of Antigua and Barbuda and confirmed that Antigua and Barbuda had mobilised the Jolly Beach Hotel to receive evacuees. Two containers of suppliers were to depart Antigua and Barbuda on April 12, 2021. He confirmed there would also be a monetary contribution and the country would continue to stand in partnership and solidarity.

Cash donations

The government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines confirmed that there were three official and secure means of collecting cash donations.

  1. The first was through an account being established by Caribbean Development Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) to support the recovery efforts;
  2. The second is a special account within the Consolidated Fund of the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, managed by the accountant general and;
  3. The third is the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ account at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank into which only governments of the Monetary Union and regional organisations can deposit funds.

Eastern Caribbean Central Bank

Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Timothy Antoine confirmed that the Monetary Council would be considering a grant for the island of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The staff of the ECCB had also embarked on an initiative donating mainly water through the National Disaster Agency of St Kitts and Nevis as well as cash donations from the staff which would be matched by the management.

The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines is in the process of establishing an official web platform for the relief effort that would provide information in real-time on the emerging needs and updates when these are met.

Persons willing to contribute to the efforts, especially organizations in the Diaspora, are strongly encouraged to give cash donations and/or to consolidate any materials being sent to avoid congestion at the ports of entry.

In assessing the northern area of St Vincent and the Grenadines after the last explosive eruption, prime minister Gonsalves surmised: “The place is desolate.”

– With a file from OECS


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