Volcanic eruption likely to “worsen food insecurity and poverty” in Saint Vincent

La Soufrière, a volcano located in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, erupted last Friday. The volcano has been dormant since 1979 and the eruption caused around 20,000 people to evacuate. While the volcano has been rumbling since December, the destructive eruption came as a surprise for many. International experts are deeply concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Saint Vincent.

The volcano activity is ongoing and has gotten worse since Friday. In a news conference last Sunday, the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre’s lead scientist, Richard Robertson said that the areas around the volcano have evidence of pyroclastic flows, or “avalanches of superheated gas and debris travelling as fast as some 120 miles per hour along the mountainside.”

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said at the daily news briefing:

“People living in close proximity to the volcano have been impacted by heavy ash fall and pyroclastic flows that have damaged crops and farming equipment and impacted livestock keeping. This is likely to worsen food insecurity and poverty which was already on the rise because of the pandemic.

Most homes in Saint Vincent are without water and most of the country’s 110,000 people have been impacted by ashfall.

For its part, the World Food Programme (WFP) today said that eruptions are continuing daily. Airports remain closed with economic implications for the country and for livelihoods and food security in the longer-term.”

STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES

According to a press release, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, spoke with Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade, National Security, Legal Affairs and Information of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines today. In the call, Minister Garneau underscored that Canada stands ready to assist in response and recovery efforts.

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