IsraAID is sending a team of Israeli emergency responders to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a chain of islands in the Caribbean, where a volcano on the main island has been spewing ash since earlier this month, endangering lives and homes.
More than 20,000 people have been displaced with some 12,000 staying in public shelters since the La Soufrière volcano began erupting on April 9. It was the first time it has erupted since 1979.
Villages are covered in ash, drinking water is hard to find, and crops and livestock have been destroyed, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the island. The United Nations has started a global fund to help cover the estimated $29 million that is needed to help residents.
“The level of destruction that has befallen this beautiful country and the widespread disruption caused by this event will forever be etched in my mind,” said Didier Trebucq, U.N. resident coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, in a press release. “The devastating impact of this event on thousands of people is undeniable.”
The IsraAID response team—some of whom will be relocated from current aid missions on the island of Dominica and in the Bahamas—will provide displaced residents with clean water; distribute hygiene supplies and other needed materials; and offer “psychological first aid” for people grappling with the effects from the volcanic activity.
“The ongoing volcanic activity in St. Vincent puts thousands of people’s lives and homes at risk,” said Michal Bar, IsraAID’s head of emergency response programming. “IsraAID’s team will utilize our longstanding experience in the region to partner with affected communities and provide urgent support now and towards a resilient future.”