Barbados stands ready to assist St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) following explosions at the La Soufriere volcano today.
Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams, gave the assurance that the full support of services would be deployed to St. Vincent, as is necessary.
Speaking during an emergency press conference held to address concerns of the public following the eruption of the volcano, Mr. Abrahams said that support at present included the Barbados Coast Guard taking down supplies and handling the transfer of equipment requested and personnel.
The Minister noted that a comprehensive request for equipment and supplies from St. Vincent was presently being handled through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Emergency Management.
He added that some of the security services were also on standby as a precaution. “Effectively, St. Vincent is a sovereign territory. If the Government of St. Vincent asks for our help in any department and we are able to provide it, then we will do it. What we can’t do is pick up and go to someone else’s country without being asked, or without being invited.
“So, what manpower we send depends on what manpower or what resources are requested,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister said while there was no formal request from St. Vincent to accommodate evacuees in Barbados, the necessary protocols were already being worked on to facilitate that process.
Expressing sympathy to the Government and people of St. Vincent because of the catastrophic event, the Minister noted that reports indicated that there were currently about 2,000 people in 20 shelters, with about 20,000 still in the orange and red zones waiting to be evacuated.
“It is a little bit premature to say what arrangements have been made because we are not yet at that stage. But, rest assured plans are being put in place to handle any eventuality that may occur and to be able to offer St. Vincent and its people all the support we can, and all the support that they need,” he said.
He explained that the initial plan was for evacuees to be accommodated within their territory and on cruise liners, which had gone to the volcanic island to render assistance.
Mr. Abrahams said one cruise liner arrived in St. Vincent this morning, while others were en route. In total, he said, approximately five cruise ships would be available to house residents evacuated from the danger zone.