Grenada initially pledged to accept hundreds of Vincentian evacuees if they opted for relocation and immediately began making arrangements to do so, in collaboration with St. George’s University.
However, at an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Authority, this week, Vincentian Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves advised his colleagues of a general reluctance among Vincentians to relocate to other countries and in some cases, to even evacuate the high-risk areas.
It is against this backdrop that countries have now started looking at alternative means of providing support for the Government and people of St. Vincent.
Dr. Mitchell said,
“This is a time of serious crisis and our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We have not lost sight of the fact that we are in the middle of a global pandemic that has affected all economies but when a crisis of this nature occurs and your brothers and sisters are in trouble, we simply have to extend a helping hand.
It is the right thing to do. In situations like this, I recall September 2004 when Hurricane Ivan devastated our country and these very neighbours, were among the first to help us. Being our brother’s keeper is just part of our tradition as Caribbean people.”
The La Soufriere volcano has experienced several explosive eruptions since last Friday, and with ongoing uncertainty over how long the situation could continue, Vincentians must be prepared for the long haul.
Dr. Mitchell said this is even more reason to help because the situation is still unfolding and its true extent may not be known for some time. Also, the fact that community spread of COVID-19 has been confirmed in St. Vincent, further compounds the situation.
The Prime Minister said Government’s cash donation will be in addition to all other emergency humanitarian relief that is being coordinated by the National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA).
The first shipment of supplies left Grenada on Sunday afternoon, arriving in the neighbouring country just hours later.
The shipment contained primarily water as this has become an urgent need given the contamination of St. Vincent’s water supply, but it also included non-perishable food, hygiene products, baby products and adult care items.
The relief effort continues, and a few other shipments have left Grenada for St. Vincent, with excellent support coming from individuals, businesses and organisations.
NaDMA, as the coordinating agency, continues to solicit donations of items on the needs list provided by the National Emergency Management Organisation in St. Vincent.
These items include drinking water, water tanks, collapsible water bladders, buckets, portable toilets, sleeping mats, field tents, respirator masks with filters, hygiene kits, disinfectants and sanitisers.
Meanwhile, preparations continue to be made to host evacuees in the event that persons decide to take advantage of the opportunity. Evacuees are however reminded that all arrangements are to be made at the Government level and the existing COVID-19 protocols will be strictly enforced.
Image courtesy the National Emergency Management Organisation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines/facebook