Prime Minister of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit has pledged Dominica’s support to St. Vincent and the Grenadines as eruptions have begun at La Soufriere volcano.
The eruptions began at approximately 8:41 am on Friday, April 9 2021, a continuation of seismic activity which began on Thursday April 8.
Prime Minister Skerrit stated that he has been in touch with Prime Minister Gonzalves, not only in his capacity as Prime Minister of Dominica, but also as Chairman of the OECS.
It is estimated that the Government of St. Vincent will have to evacuate 20,000 people and an estimated 12,000 or so will be accommodated in shelters in St. Vincent which leaves them with about 8,000 people to be accommodated out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“So what we are doing today, from last night into today, we are coordinating with Member States of the OECS and of course CARICOM to see how many evacuees each country can accommodate from St. Vincent. In Dominica’s case, we met last night as a cabinet along with other technical people to discuss our acceptance and to start the preparation to receive evacuees from St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Today we will confirm the number of people that we will accommodate but certainly Dominica will be accommodating some people. It is a very difficult situation for the Government and people of St. Vincent and it calls for all of us to extend our solidarity, our empathy, our love and concern for the people of St. Vincent,” Prime Minister Skerrit noted.
He went on to say that this “is coming at a very difficult time with Covid-19 but this is a natural disaster and we have to respond with the love and solidarity that are required of us as citizens of the OECS and human beings.”
PM Skerrit then added that Dominica will assist the Government and people of St. Vincent in any way possible.
“We are looking at some options. As you know we have the Moroccan Hotel and we are also looking at utilizing private properties particularly in the Portsmouth area. And so in the next couple hours we will confirm this, the precise accommodation but whatever is going to be required on the part of the Government of Dominica, we will respond with the brotherly love that St. Vincent has shown to us every time. I believe we have a duty and obligation to extend a hand and empathy to the people of St. Vincent. It is a very difficult situation to have to evacuate 20,000 individuals and it can certainly be overwhelming for St. Vincent. I mean the Prime Minister told me people will have to be evacuated for up 45 months,” PM Skerrit added.
President of the Commonwealth of Dominica, His Excellency, Charles Savarin, reiterated the Prime Minister’s promise to assist the people of St. Vincent, expressing his solidarity with the Prime Minister Gonzalves and his cabinet.
“In the case of St. Vincent, the Soufriere hills are in the north so the north is red and the south is green. They have had an explosive eruption this morning. The emergency evacuation began yesterday when the Prime Minister issued an order to do so and the Prime Minister of Dominica has made a public statement which he repeated this morning that we in Dominica are extending our open arms to assist in whatever way we possibly can. Basically people who are evacuated have to be sheltered. I heard numbers as high as 20,000, and hopefully it will be less than that, but nevertheless you have to make preparations in the event that the eruption is worse than anticipated. So our solidarity and empathy are with the Governor General Dame Susan, the Prime Minister and his cabinet and the people of St. Vincent that we in Dominica stand in solidarity with them and are prepared to assist them in whatever way we can,” His Excellency Savarin stated.
So far, the Prime Ministers of Antigua, Grenada and St. Lucia has already expressed their willingness to house evacuees and have announced that they will be ready by Sunday or Monday to receive persons.
A teary eyed Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonzalves thanked the neighboring islands for the support that they have given thus far.
“It is very touching that there are families in Antigua and Grenada and St. Lucia and Dominica who are calling in and saying that they will take people in if need be into their homes. Amazing how, on this journey, we have the good Samaritans. The way in which the people of these countries have responded to put people in their homes, strangers, brings tears to my eyes. I love this Caribbean,” Dr. Gonzalves stated.