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Evacuees Identified As “Biggest, Immediate Challenge”

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Basseterre, St. Kitts (WINN)- Sunday, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is covered in ash, from a few inches in the south to “many feet” in the north, and officials are grappling with the comfort, care, and safety of evacuees, reports Camillo Gonsalves, the country’s finance minister.

He expressed the belief that about 20,000 people will be internally displaced for up to 3 to 4 months.

“Historically, the volcano keeps going intermittently for a couple of months.”

He identified the big, immediate challenge facing St. Vincent and the Grenadines as “the comfort, care, and safety of evacuees”.

“COVID is a huge underlying threat given the conditions in which people are housed. Other islands are offering accommodations but requiring vaccination first. Most people in the rural north have been vaccine skeptical.

This will complicate matters tremendously, and likely lead to big outbreaks.”

He said conditions in the shelters were uneven. Some adequate, others less so.

“We were probably two weeks too slow in acquiring additional cots, so a few thousand cots are still in Miami awaiting clearance to fly down (ash has closed airspace) as such, many people are sleeping on the floor.

That situation is slowly being resolved with donations and makeshift solutions.”

He mentioned that the infrastructural damage is not as bad as feared as not a great deal of lave flowed in the direction of the villages, just ash, and rocks.

“A number of homes have been destroyed, under the weight of ash or reported small fires ignited by hot projectiles. Minor damage by rocks ejected from the volcano. However most crops on the island will be lost, and untold livestock., ”

“Tremendous volunteerism and solidarity across SVG. Many people are helping in myriad ways.

Immediate needs are water, bedding, respiratory equipment and supplies, and sanitary products for babies/elderly/women.

Thank you for your continued concern and solidarity.”

 

Caption: Satellite image moments after La Soufriere eruption on Friday(Reuters Photo)

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