Montserrat will contribute one hundred and fifty thousand Eastern Caribbean dollars (XCD$150,000.00) along with donations of essential supplies to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as the island continues to cope with a series of eruptions at the La Soufrière Volcano, announced Premier Joseph E. Farrell on Monday, following a meeting of Cabinet earlier today.
On Thursday April 8, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves ordered an immediate evacuation of people living in the most at-risk areas on St Vincent. On Friday, April 9, La Soufriere erupted after being quiet for 41 years. Since then, there have been a series of explosions and pyroclastic flows have also commenced. The island is blanketed with ash and neighboring countries like Barbados and St. Lucia have also received ash fall, prompting airport closures.
Today’s Cabinet meeting was preceded by an Emergency Stakeholder meeting on Friday, during which stakeholders to include officials from the Disaster Management Coordination Agency (DMCA) identified relief items available on island and which can be donated based the ‘Immediate Needs–Volcanic Emergency’ list received from the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Premier Farrell said, “Cabinet agreed on a financial contribution of $150,000.00 dollars 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.”
Additionally, the Premier announced that Cabinet was advised of the establishment of a local support team to either work from home or travel to St. Vincent and the Grenadines to provide assistance in key areas such as radio communications, shelter management and operational support among others.
He noted that Montserrat has already provided technical support before the eruptions began, as 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. To this end, the Premier said additional technical support will be provided as the scientists will have to be rotated depending on the duration of the increased activity and eruptions.
Discussions on the situation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines will continue with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The UK Government has also 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).
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.
The UK said it will continue to work with the CDEMA and other agencies to assess the need for further support.
British Nationals can contact FCDO for consular assistance via phone 24/7on (+44) (0) 207 008 1500 and should sign up online for updates on FCDO Travel Advice for St Vincent and the Grenadines and for Barbados.
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Photo caption – Heavy Ash fall blankets the village of Fitz Hughes in St. Vincent (NEMO Photo)