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R. Robertson UWI SRC
R. Robertson UWI SRC
credit R. Robertson UWI SRC
credit R. Robertson UWI SRC
World News

Churches offer St Vincent island help as volcanic activity causes devastation

by Cara Bentley

Volcanic activity on the Carribean island of St Vincent and the Grenadines has left many without water and more than 15,000 people have been evacuated. 

The La Soufrière volcano began a series of eruptions on 9th April, causing ash to cover much of the island. 

The people on St Vincent are now in need of tanks of water, cots, portable toilets, sleeping mats and tents. 

Official reports currently say eruptions are still in progress and may occur without further warning and that earthquakes have been ongoing. Explosions and accompanying ashfall are likely to continue to occur over the next few days. 

 

The UK Government is providing supplies like shelter, sanitation kits and protective equipment and has provided an initial £200,000, via the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to support the regional response by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. 

Christian peer Lord Boateng questioned whether this was enough in the House of Lords: "We can and must do more. I have been in touch with St Vincent and Barbados overnight. The position is that ash continues to fall, and there is a shortage of water. The reality on the ground is of the loss of livelihoods and a continuing threat to life. This is a major environmental and humanitarian emergency, and £200,000 will not cut it. 

"The CDEMA needs technical support. I hope the Minister will authorise that a team go out from the UK to assess the needs. It needs help with the field hospital. Barbados is taking a lead, and is responsible for the emergency relief in the area, but it is hard pressed, and the time has come for this country to act. After all, the prosperity of these islands was based on the labour and sugar of those islands. They deserve more than £200,000."

 

The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, asked the Government whether displaced people with family in the UK could settle here: "My Lords, the Diocese of the Windward Islands is linked with my diocese here in St Albans and I have been in touch with Bishop Leopold Friday, overnight.

"The churches are already doing a huge amount of work and stand ready to help in any way they can, not least because here in my diocese, in Luton, we also have a large Vincentian population and this matter is affecting people's families.

"If there are people who are forced to evacuate from the country, will the Government consider a temporary resettlement scheme for those with family links here in the UK?"

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, on behalf of the Government, said: "My Lords, I fully acknowledge what the right reverend Prelate says about the important role that church authorities play.

"On the right reverend Prelate's wider question about long-term impacts, we will obviously remain engaged with the authorities of St Vincent and the Grenadines about their medium and long-term requirements."

The Methodist Church has also responded, with Rev Everald L Galbraith, President of Conference of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas, saying: "Our church; has three facilities that are currently being used as shelters, [it] has asked several of our congregations to adopt a shelter and has been assisting in providing food, toiletries, mattresses and several other needs."


 

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