On Wednesday 28 April, Her Excellency Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Permanent Representative of Guyana to the United Nations and Chair of the CARICOM Caucus, introduced in the General Assembly of the United Nations 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 14 member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The resolution received overwhelming support, with 174 of the 193 member States of the UN General Assembly co-sponsoring the resolution, which was adopted by consensus.
In her statement, Ambassador Rodrigues-Birkett highlighted the “deep concernabout the serious consequences of the explosive eruptions of the La Soufrière Volcano in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines since 9 April 2021 which has resulted in the displacement of residents, loss of livelihoods, food security and nutrition, health security, and access to social infrastructure, and about the urgent need to restore normal conditions for the population.
For more than two weeks, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been in the throes of a series of explosive volcanic eruptions on the island of St. Vincent, a crisis of historic proportions. Nearly one-fifth of the island’s population has had to be evacuated from the immediate disaster area which covers approximately one third of the island. The ongoing explosive volcanic eruptions are compounded by the multidimensional challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, and comes before a predicted active hurricane season that begins in a few weeks. These are all severe shocks beyond domestic control and demonstrate the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States.”
The resolution underlines the special needs and challenges of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the affected neighboring countries and welcomes the generous and immediate assistance that has been provided by CARICOM and other neighbouring countries, as well as by other States and national, regional and international organizations, particularly the United Nations system. It invites the international community to continue relief efforts and to increase support and encourages the international financial institutions and organizations to continue to contribute and to respond generously for the duration of the emergency and of the rehabilitation process.
Permanent Representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Nations, Her Excellency I. Rhonda King, expressed sincere gratitude on behalf of the Government and people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to all Member States for their invaluable support for the resolution. She extended special appreciation “to all of the Americas, who has rallied to our cause.”
Ambassador King welcomed the launch of the United Nations Global Appeal Fund for St. Vincent and the Grenadines and neighbouring countries, stating that “without the immediate and sustained solidarity from the United Nations, our regional/sub-regional organisations, neighbours and countries near and far, our life and living would be completely unbearable. We thank you.
The United Nations and its agencies have been actively at work. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Regional Security System (RSS), the ALBA, the Association of Caribbean States, and their allied regional agencies have been at the forefront with their magnificent efforts.”
Crediting the new reforms of the UN system, Ambassador King said “it is important to note that within 24 hours of the first set of explosive eruptions, my Prime Minister received a personal call from the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. Two days after that, the UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean based in Barbados, 100 miles east of Saint Vincent, arrived by boat because the airspace was closed.”
She thanked the international community for their solidarity and reiterated strong commitment to working with the governments, intergovernmental and regional organisations, international financial institutions, and the private sector in the recovery process of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as the affected neighbouring countries.
Her Excellency Keisha A. McGuire, Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations and Vice President of the General Assembly, presided over the session. During the session, statements of support were delivered by the Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, Her Excellency Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and the Deputy Permanent Representatives of Morocco and the United Kingdom.