(CMC) — In response to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves’ international call for humanitarian assistance, the Government of Canada has pledged CAD$440,000 (US$354,794) in immediate aid to assist Vincentians in their immediate response to the volcanic eruptions at La Soufrière.
A statement from the Bridgetown-based High Commission of Canada in Barbados said the disaster relief funding, provided through Global Affairs Canada, will focus on the basic needs of displaced persons, including those in shelters, with a contribution of CAD$50,000 (US$40,317) to support the work of Rapid Relief Team SVG and the health needs of displaced women and children through a contribution of CAD$50,000 (US$40,317) to the World Pediatric Project Caribbean.
Canada has provided CAD$90,000 (US$72,571) to the St Vincent and the Grenadines Red Cross via the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support shelters for evacuees and to provide relief supplies and first aid services.
Canada has also mobilised a CAD$250,000 (US$201,587) contribution to the World Food Program (WFP) following the UN Flash Appeal for assistance to St Vincent and the Grenadines. This funding will allow WFP to scale-up its life-saving operations for the next three months to provide food security, logistics, and emergency telecommunications.
Since the eruption of the volcano at La Soufrière began on April 9, over 13,000 people — more than 10 per cent of the population — have been displaced from their homes into shelters and other forms of temporary housing. The volcano remains in an eruptive state, and the local situation is further compounded by the continued COVID-19 pandemic.
“Canada’s urgent response and support for St Vincent and the Grenadines seek to ensure human dignity is maintained through humanitarian action and focuses on the protection of the rights of women and girls, a key tenet of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy,” the High Commission said in its statement.
This emergency assistance complements Canada’s long-term disaster preparedness and readiness initiatives with partners such as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Canadian Red Cross, Pan-American Health Organization, World Bank, and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). These partners, currently on the ground in St. Vincent, are assisting with response efforts through Canadian funding.
Canada’s humanitarian assistance to St Vincent and the Grenadines follows discussions between Prime Minister Gonsalves and Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marc Garneau, held on April 13.
“Canada remains a committed partner and unwavering friend to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines as the country responds to the evolving natural disaster,” the High Commission stressed.