PM makes impassioned plea for assistance for the homeless

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) — Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves yesterday made an impassioned plea for assistance for the homeless as the authorities continue to put measures in place to deal with the impact of an erupting La Soufriere volcano.

Gonsalves, speaking at the daily news conference aired on the State-owned NBC Radio, said there were many homeless people living on the streets of the capital and urged Vincentians to assist in their care.

“You know we have had a few of them around Kingstown and the ash would be making life difficult for them and it is an important category which has been identified and we have to take care of all human beings,” he said.

“But I would say to persons, if you know such individuals take them to a shelter, please, help in that way, be a good Samaritan because a lot of people are stretched doing a lot a lot of things. So I want to urge initiatives in that way also,” Gonsalves said, noting that the State cannot do everything regarding the disaster alone.

He said all hands must be on deck as the country deals with the catastrophe.

So far there has been no reported casualties as a result of the eruptions caused by the volcano that last erupted in 1997.

United Kingdom assistance

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom yesterday said it is providing £200,000 emergency assistance to St Vincent and the Grenadines.

A statement from the British High Commission in Barbados said that the rapid crisis funds will help provide life-saving humanitarian supplies like shelter, sanitation kits and protective equipment.

It said 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 the initial funds are being made available through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to support the regional response, through the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

World Bank support

Also yesterday, the World Bank said it is providing US$20 million to support the St Vincent and the Grenadines Government as it responds to the crisis.

“Our hearts are with the people of St 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.”

The Washington-based financial institution said that the funds are being disbursed from a contingent credit line known as the Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (Cat-DDO), approved in June 2020. The Cat-DDO instrument is designed to provide immediate liquidity to support a country’s efforts to recover from disasters triggered by natural hazards or a public health emergency.

Flights suspended

Meanwhile, the Antigua-based regional airline, LIAT, has announced the suspension of all flights in the southern part of its network due to the volcanic activity in St Vincent.

Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines had also announced cancellations of several flights to Barbados, St Vincent, Dominica, Grenada, and Guyana over the last weekend.

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