A volcano located on the Caribbean island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines erupted on April 9 for the first time in decades, displacing thousands of people, according to UN News.
It has sparked a growing humanitarian crisis that some experts believe will last months.
The long-dormant La Soufrière volcano began showing signs of activity in December 2020 and began erupting earlier this month, covering the main island of St. Vincent in ash. Last week, the National Emergency Management Organization of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (NEMO) said that the volcano had moved into an explosive state and urged residents to evacuate.
La Soufriere has moved into an explosive state. Plumes up to eight kilometers. Ash fall expected within five minutes#svgeruption2021#— NEMO SVG (@NEMOSVG) April 9, 2021
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is home to just over 110,000 people, 4,000 of whom are currently living in shelters across the island. Some of the shelters lack basic services, and the entire population of the main island does not have access to clean water and electricity.
Now, officials on the island nation are worried about an accelerated COVID-19 outbreak as residents flee affected areas and crowd into shelters and family homes, according to the Guardian.
Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves has thanked world leaders and volunteer efforts for their support of the people affected and displaced by the volcano. Throughout the pandemic, collaboration among nations has been essential, and Gonsalves announced his support for Global Citizen’s Recovery Plan for the World earlier this year to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“We must work together in solidarity for equitable vaccine access, to build immunity everywhere, and to enhance resilience and climate compliance," Gonsalves said in February.
"We must work together in solidarity for equitable vaccine access, to build immunity everywhere, and to enhance resilience and climate compliance" Thank you @ComradeRalph! Global Citizens are on board. #WorldRecoveryPlanpic.twitter.com/nfv8yTWsp9— Global Citizen Impact (@GlblCtznImpact) February 23, 2021
Jennifer Richardson, who is the director of the Agency for Public Information (API) and is currently working with NEMO to coordinate the country’s response to the volcanic eruption, told Global Citizen that people who want to support relief efforts in St. Vincent and the Grenadines should refer to organizations working with NEMO.
“We’re asking people who want to donate to relief efforts to do so ‘in care of NEMO,’” Richardson said, pointing to API’s Facebook page for specific information on how to donate to the country’s disaster relief fund. “We are also working with several organizations on the ground to distribute resources for displaced persons, whether they are in private residences or in government-organized shelters.”
To join the global effort to supply drinking water, basic hygiene items, and cots to those affected by the La Soufrière volcanic eruption, here is a list of organizations working on the ground with NEMO that you can support.
1. St. Vincent and the Grenadines Red Cross (SVGRC)
Red Cross volunteers on the island nation have been engaging in preparedness activities with NEMO to provide assistance during the volcanic eruption. Currently, SVGRC volunteers have provided personal protective equipment (PPE) and resources — such as blankets, cleaning kits, hygiene kits, jerrycans, and mosquito nets — to those affected by the volcano.
To support the Red Cross’ efforts on the ground, donate here.
2. Salvation Army
The Salvation Army in St. Vincent and the Grenadines initiated a volcano rapid response, distributing food and resources to people as they evacuated from the island’s danger zone. NEMO is currently working with the Salvation Army to distribute necessary resources and clean water to people throughout the island. You can address donations to the Salvation Army in St. Vincent and the Grenadines here.
UNICEF was able to offer aid to displaced people as soon as the volcano began erupting because of close partnerships with agencies on the island who have been preparing for months.
“In less than 24 hours we were able to dispatch life-saving water and sanitation supplies to St. Vincent, thanks to our partnership with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the logistical support of the Barbados Defence Force whose marine fleet transported the items to St. Vincent,” said Dr. Aloys Kamuragiye, UNICEF representative for the Eastern Caribbean Area.
UNICEF has begun the provision of humanitarian assistance to approximately 5,000 children affected the eruption of the La Soufrière Volcano in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines last Friday.#DisasterResponse#ForEveryChildhttps://t.co/oRh80IZr4F— UNICEF Eastern Caribbean (@UNICEFECA) April 12, 2021
To support UNICEF’S relief efforts to provide essential items, donate here.
4. Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA)
CDEMA is a regional inter-governmental agency for disaster management in the Caribbean Community. The agency aids in the coordination of emergency response and relief efforts, partnering with relief groups and NEMO to bring assistance directly to the people who are affected by natural disasters and technological hazards.
The agency is accepting monetary donations to aid in relief efforts arising out of the La Soufrière volcanic eruption here.
The UN is also launching a funding appeal to support St. Vincent and the Grenadines during the crisis and assist with devising a clean-up plan for the volcanic ash that has covered the area.
As the residents of St. Vincent and the Grenadines prepare for a months-long relief program to deal with the aftermath of the La Soufrière volcanic eruption, international humanitarian assistance and volunteer efforts will be crucial in helping those affected access basic necessities.