The Jamaican government says it is committed to providing humanitarian assistance to the Government and people of St Vincent and the Grenadines, following the impact of the La Soufrière volcano on the island.
This was emphasized by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, during Friday’s (April 23) sitting of the Senate at Gordon House.
Senator Johnson Smith said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade has been part of the team coordinating relief efforts for the cause.
She informed that the efforts are being coordinated locally as well as through overseas Missions based on a Needs List shared by the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“We remain in contact with them through the Foreign Ministry as well as through the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), and of course representatives of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) are also in contact,” Senator Johnson Smith said.
She pointed out that as a result of the Foreign Ministry’s engagement with counterparts in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, supported by respective Defence Forces, more than $20 million worth of supplies is currently bound for St. Vincent and the Grenadines aboard the HMBS Lawrence Major, a vessel operated by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. The vessel left Kingston on April 22.
Among the relief items on board are drinking water, disaster kits, two pallets of animal feed, antibiotics, IV fluid, needles and syringes for support of their agricultural sector.
She said the disaster response machinery, led by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, through ODPEM, continues to compile disaster relief assistance for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
She said the Disaster Assistance Relief Team (DART) of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) also stands ready to deploy if requested, as discussed between Prime Ministers Ralph Gonsalves and the Most Hon. Andrew Holness.
Mrs. Johnson Smith encouraged persons who would like to make a donation to do so through the account established by ODPEM.
The details are: Name – Donation Account for Saint Vincent Relief; Bank – NCB, Oxford Road, Branch Account: 212-387-304
She said that according to the most recent situational update from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and other entities, between 16,000 and 20,000 people are expected to be displaced. Entire villages have been covered in ash, which has destroyed crops, livestock and tainted sources of potable water.
The Minister noted too that the disaster risk responses of CARICOM have been activated and are concentrated in the Eastern Caribbean, in accordance with the sub-regional groupings of CDEMA.
Meanwhile, she said Jamaica’s High Commissioner in Port of Spain (Trinidad), who is accredited to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Honorary Consul on the ground in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have been closely monitoring the situation as well as that of the Jamaican community.