Caribbean: Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) met on Thursday 15 April during a special emergency session to discuss the situation in St Vincent and the Grenadines caused by the ongoing volcanic eruptions of La Soufriere.
They pledged to continue to provide extensive support to St Vincent and the Grenadines and pledged solidarity with the Member State as it sought to deal with the disaster. The volcano erupted on Friday, April 9, erupting ash and emitting pyroclastic currents.
PRESS STATEMENT – On the Fourteenth Special Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Governmenthttps://t.co/AmGucfV6PLAdvertisement
— Caribbean Community (CARICOM) (@CARICOMorg) April 15, 2021
Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines briefed his fellow leaders on the situation during the virtually held meeting. The chairman of the conference of heads of government was Dr Keith Rowley, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. The meeting also received information from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) coordinating the event’s local response.
Heads of government have been told that the situation will be prolonged, given the degree of uncertainty regarding the volcano’s behaviour.
PM Gonsalves reported that more than 10,000 people had been evacuated from the immediate disaster area, covering about one-third of the island. They are housed in shelters and at the homes of family and friends. Accommodation for the evacuated is also arranged by neighbouring states.
The ash and the pyroclastic flow reduced crops and vegetation and harmed water sources. Food and water have been identified as one of essential needs.
Member States have indicated the level of support already provided and committed to providing further financial, technical and material support, in particular food and water. Safety assistance is also provided.
Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, warned the meeting about the consequences of the unprecedented heavy ash fall on that island, which led to significant disruption of infrastructure, including the closure of Grantley Adams International Airport with a detrimental effect on the tourism sector and the broader economy. Heads of government have pledged their support and solidarity with Barbados in tackling this critical challenge.
Premier Gonsalves thanks his fellow heads of government and local institutions for their overwhelming support. He praised the work of the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center (SRC), which monitored the volcano, and expressed its deep appreciation for the efforts of CDEMA, the Regional Security System (RSS), the Caribbean Public Health Agency ( CARPHA) and the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) to assist the country.