On April 28, 2021, Ambassador Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Permanent Representative of Guyana to the United Nations and Chair of the CARICOM Caucus, introduced a resolution on behalf of the 14 Member States of the CARICOM, 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”.
The resolution received overwhelming support in the General Assembly with 174 member States co-sponsoring and was adopted by consensus.
In her statement, Ambassador Rodrigues-Birkett told the General Assembly that: “The resolution expresses deep concern about 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, presented to the Assembly, notes the elevated public health risk of the spread of the COVID-19 virus among persons offered refuge both within and beyond the national territory of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
It further underlines the special needs and challenges of St. Vincent and the affected neighbouring 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.
Ambassador Rodrigues-Birkett further told the Assembly that: “the resolution 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 in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as affected neighbouring countries. It also requests the Secretary-General, to the extent of this authority, to support the rehabilitation efforts.”
Permanent Representative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Nations, Ambassador Rhonda King, expressed sincere gratitude on behalf of the Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to all Member States for their invaluable support for the resolution.
She expressed heartfelt appreciation to Rodrigues-Birkett for introducing the resolution on behalf of CARICOM and for her personal outreach efforts. (Modified press release from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation)