People affected by La Soufrière’s eruption are in urgent need of hygiene items, water, and COVID-19 protection kits

A thick cloud of smoke billows into the air caused by the eruption of La Soufriere volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines in April 2021

Photo: IFRC

Kingston / Panama City, 11 April 2021The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is working alongside the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Red Cross (SVGRC) to provide humanitarian aid to the population affected by the eruption of La Soufrière volcano. 

Within 48 hours after the volcanic eruption, people’s most immediate needs include maternal and childcare for those staying in the high-risk areas; shelter, hygiene items, water, and items for COVID-19 prevention for those who have been evacuated. 

The SVGRC is assisting the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) with evacuation sites and transport points, working to ensure even the most reluctant are evacuated  for their safety. Needs assessment teams have been deployed to 100 shelters and in over ten  communities, Red Cross volunteers have responded to assist those impacted.  

“In addition to assisting with evacuation and shelter management, we are also doing contact  tracing to ensure that family members who are displaced, are reconnected with their families. We are encouraging persons who aren’t in government shelters to register with the St. Vincent and  the Grenadines Red Cross,” said Harvey Farrell, SVGRC Vice President.  

At evacuation centres, the Red Cross is also distributing hygiene kits, blankets, mattresses and  water; and will continue to deliver messages about how to stay safe and healthy from COVID-19,  and to avoid contracting dengue. Since early 2020, a dengue outbreak is hitting all health districts  of the island. 

IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) will allow the Red Cross network to ensure 700 sheltered families are receiving immediate support, including jerrycans, cleaning kits, hygiene kits, kitchen sets, COVID-19 prevention kits and first aid. Safe spaces for children in shelters will also be enabled in coordination with other organizations. Upon returning to their homes, persons would need support in recovering their livelihoods. The Red Cross will conduct an assessment to  adequately determine those in need of this kind of assistance.  

“This is a very difficult time to be relocating so many people as the island continues to battle COVID-19 and dengue. Red Cross volunteers and staff, many of whom are from the same affected communities and left their homes behind as well, are working tirelessly in these early days of the eruption,” said Ariel Kestens, IFRC Head of Delegation for the Dutch- and English speaking Caribbean. 

Effective preparedness and early action in disaster saves lives and livelihoods. Since before the eruption, SVGRC has worked with communities to ensure they are ready to evacuate and had emergency go-bags packed with key documents and necessary supplies. 

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