On Wednesday 28 April, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) unanimously adopted a resolution entitled: “Solidarity with and support for the Government and people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as neighbouring countries affected by the impact of the eruptions of the La Soufriere Volcano”, on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
The resolution, which follows the recent launch of a USD$29.2 Million Global Funding Appeal received overwhelming support. One hundred and seventy-four of the 193 member States co-sponsored the resolution, which was adopted by consensus.
Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the UN, and Chair of the CARICOM Caucus, Ambassador Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, tabled the resolution, outlining the “crisis of historic proportions” that faced Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for more than two weeks since the April 9 eruption. This, she added, is compounded by the multidimensional challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and the fast-approaching hurricane season that poses an additional threat to an already vulnerable population.
To date over 11,000 residents are currently displaced and seeking refuge across 85 shelters, private homes, and limited hotel accommodation. There is limited access to clean waters damaged homes and infrastructure, school closures, food and health insecurity and loss of livelihoods, among other shocks, with agricultural losses currently estimated at USD$150 million.
The resolution welcomes the generous and immediate assistance provided by CARICOM and neighbouring countries, as well as by other States and national, regional, and international organisations, particularly the United Nations system. It also invites the international solidarity and support for relief, recovery, and rehabilitation efforts.
In addressing the UNGA session, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ Permanent Representative, Ambassador I. Rhonda King, thanked Member States for their invaluable support for the resolution and to her country. She especially welcomed the launch of the UN Global Appeal Fund noting that “without immediate and sustained solidarity from the United Nations, regional and sub-regional organisations, neighbours and countries near and far, our life and living would be completely unbearable.”
Crediting the new reforms of the UN system, Ambassador King noted that within 24 hours of the first set of explosive eruptions, her Prime Minister had received a personal call from UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, and soon afterwards, the UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, arrived by boat.
She thanked the international community for their solidarity and reiterated a strong commitment to working with governments, the private sector and regional and international actors, towards the recovery process of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as the affected neighbouring countries.
Permanent Representative of Grenada and Vice President of the General Assembly, Ambassador Keisha A. McGuire, presided over the session, that also included statements of support from Member States. Permanent Representative of the United States of America, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, underscored her country’s ongoing support for Red Cross efforts in-country, and pledged further assistance in recovery and evacuation. She subsequently pledged an initial USD$250,000 in aid, as part of a promised “long-term response.” Statements were also made by Deputy Permanent Representatives of Morocco and the United Kingdom.
In welcoming the Resolution, Mr. Trebucq, described the situation in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as “apocalyptic” and reiterated the need for urgent and immediate global solidarity. “The vast majority of the population has been directly affected. The crops are totally devastated in the northern part of the island, so we fear as well, a problem of food security. We are also six weeks away from the hurricane season, we really fear at that time a sort of growing humanitarian crisis . We have to act very quickly, and that is why it is very urgent that we receive a fairly satisfactory response to this UN appeal in order to prevent further tragedy,” the UN Resident Coordinator underlined.