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Red Cross marks one year since La Soufrière volcanic eruption: ‘Recovery efforts continue to be crucial’

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Posted: Sunday, April 10, 2022. 4:15 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has marked one year since the explosive eruption of the La Soufrière volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines last April, which forced more than 13 thousand from their homes.

In a statement, the organization said it had supported over five thousand “with water, emergency relief supplies, hygiene and cleaning items, dignified housing solutions, risk communication and community engagement, as well as psychosocial and livelihood support.” Its focus now is on shelter and socio-economic recovery amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Federation asked for 2 million Swiss francs (EC$5.79 million; BZ $4.3 million) for its efforts last year through donations. Its president in St Vincent Bernard Morgan reported, “The physical effects of the volcano may not be as visible now, but people are still dealing with the social, economic, and psychological effects of the eruption, especially the estimated 900 people who are still unable to move back to their homes.”

The Red Cross provided multipurpose grants to support approximately 1000 persons as well as supermarket vouchers for over 800 persons. In addition, over 300 small enterprises have received grants to restart farming, fishing and businesses that were interrupted by the eruption.

The Red Cross has supported over 210 highly vulnerable persons (74 families) to leave collective centers and move into dignified shelter conditions through the provision of rental grants for a period of between 1-6 months depending on needs, with over 400 monthly grants distributed since September 2021.

Children have been at the core of the humanitarian response, with over 500 receiving psychosocial support kits including learning and recreational items. The IFRC collaborated with partners, like UNICEF and the Gender Affairs Unit, to ensure child-friendly spaces in collective centers. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and dengue outbreak, preventing the spread of the virus and dengue infections was a major part of the response. The Red Cross provided information about staying safe and healthy and supplied family Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, as well as 400 hand sanitizer wall-mounted units to the Ministry of Education for schools reopening for face-to-face learning. The Red Cross also supported cleanup efforts following the eruption and distributed household cleaning kits to over 3,300 families and hygiene kits and COVID-19 kits to over 2,300 families.

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