Humanitarian efforts currently taking place in volcano-hit St Vincent & the Grenadines will benefit from just under US $900 000 from the European Union (EU).
The emergency funding will be managed by the EU humanitarian aid department and implemented by humanitarian partners already active in Kingstown.
It will prioritise interventions to guarantee immediate access to water, sanitation, hygiene, healthcare and distributions of non-food items, in addition to the protection of the most vulnerable.
“Our thoughts are with those who have been displaced, including those who have been left without clean water or electricity, due to the La Soufriére volcanic eruption,” Head of the EU Delegation in Barbados, Malgorzata Wasilewska said.
“We announce this emergency funding that will support SVG in their efforts to overcome this disaster, in the context of the challenging COVID-19 pandemic, which will target in particular support to the evacuees, access to clean water and sanitation.
“The EU stands ready to step up humanitarian support for those in need in this urgent crisis.”
Explosive eruptions started at La Soufriere two Fridays ago, prompting the government to order an immediate evacuation of the most directly exposed areas.
Between 16 000 and 20 000 people have already been evacuated, local authorities said, with at least 4 000 of them currently living in temporary public shelters.
Around US $250 000 of the EU emergency fund will be channelled to the SVG Red Cross through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) through their Disaster Relief Emergency Funds.
Evacuees will receive hygiene kits, COVID-19 personal protective equipment and the basic healthcare they need through the SVG Red Cross, which is supporting national authorities in coordinating and managing temporary shelters.
The EU will channel close to US $650 000 through humanitarian partners already active in SVG in order to enhance their response to the emergency.
The EU also said the French government delivered 40 tons of first aid items, such as COVID-19 personal protective equipment, hygiene kits and drinking water to SVG on April 14, through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
In addition, the EU’s Copernicus satellite service is currently providing maps of the area and the EU’s 24/7 Emergency Response Coordination Centre is in close contact with local authorities to monitor the situation and eventually channel further assistance.
La Soufriere’s activity has affected more than 110 000 people – almost the entire population of SVG – at a time when the country has been facing a dengue outbreak in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The descending pyroclastic flows and the approximately 10 kilometre-high ash column covered villages, damaged the country’s electricity grid and disrupted water supply. (AR)