As development partners work assiduously to assist the government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to recover and build back better from the widespread social and economic dislocation caused by the April 9 eruption of La Soufriere volcano, the United Nations has welcomed a pledge of over US$3 million by the United States government to its Fund Appeal launched to support humanitarian response and recovery efforts.
According to Resident Coordinator for United Nations Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Didier Trebucq, the cash injection, directed through the US$29.2 million UN Funding Appeal for St. Vincent and the Grenadines and affected neighboring countries, will bolster ongoing efforts in logistics, food security, WASH and health, “which are even more critical with the start of the 2021 hurricane season.
“The UN has been supporting humanitarian and recovery efforts in St. Vincent and the Grenadines from the onset of this crisis,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. “As we seek to further upscale our assistance, this can only be possible through the continued collaboration with our development partners.
“I am grateful for the timely and important contribution of the US Government to the UN appeal, which enables the UN agencies to deliver critical lifesaving support to the people of Saint and the Grenadines,” Trebucq added. “I wish to call on members of the international community to join forces with us to help to amplify recovery and rehabilitation efforts in St. Vincent.”
Reiterating the United States Government’s continued commitment to the volcano-ravaged Caribbean nation, US Ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Linda Taglialatela, said: “The United States Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is pleased to provide an additional US$3.8 million in humanitarian assistance for the people affected by the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“These funds, which will go through the United Nations Appeal, will provide thousands of people in St. Vincent with emergency food assistance, access to safe drinking water, hygiene supplies and other critical care items,” she added. “The United States will walk the road to recovery with the government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as we are neighbors, partners, and friends.”
Having been working on the ground from the outset of the emergency, providing critical leadership in the areas of logistics and food security, Acting Representative for the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) English and Dutch Caribbean Office, Regis Chapman, said: “USAID’s contribution allowed WFP to swiftly activate a response to the needs of thousands impacted by La Soufriere’s eruption.
“By supporting the government-led process, affected persons benefit from improved logistics systems and infrastructure for relief management, cash transfers to meet food and other essential needs and the digitalization of the immediate response,” he said.
Dr. Aloys Kamuragiye, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative for the Eastern Caribbean Area, who continues to play an integral role in supporting Education, protection and WASH response, added: “The funding is critical if we are to help the children of St. Vincent and the Grenadines come through this La Soufriere crisis safe, secure, healthy and able to learn.
“UNICEF is working hard in several areas – including education, early childhood development and water, sanitation and hygiene – to make this a reality: improving lives and bringing hope,” he said.
The UN said the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is continuing support for health systems strengthening, “which is vitally important, particularly given increased risks of COVID-19.”
PAHO/World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to Barbados and Eastern Caribbean Countries, Dr. Yitades Gibre, noted: “Thanks to this USAID grant PAHO will contribute to continued access to life-saving and essential health services for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, an action of utmost importance given the health risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the start of the hurricane season in the Caribbean.
“The health services will benefit from urgently needed medical equipment and critical health supplies to normalize health care in the affected communities including establishing early warning systems to detect outbreaks,” Dr. Gibre said.
To date, the UN said its Funding Appeal is 31 percent funded, with US$9.1 million “repurposed, mobilized and pledged.”
The UN said support has also been received from the European Union; the Governments of Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Malta and Australia; and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund.
Support is being channeled to eight critical sectors – food security; logistics; health; WASH; shelter housing and infrastructure; protection; education and early recovery – the UN said.