The International Organization for Migration (IOM) will provide emergency shelter assistance to 280 displaced families affected by the La Soufrière volcanic eruption in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. This response is funded by a US$ 850K Emergency Grant Aid provided by the Government of Japan.
In April, residents on the island of Saint Vincent began evacuating areas surrounding La Soufrière volcano in the wake of volcanic eruptions and ensuing pyroclastic flows. According to the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), approximately 24,419 persons from 21 communities were displaced through mandatory evacuation in vulnerable zones surrounding La Soufrière in the island's northern region.
Evacuees initially resided in private homes and government emergency shelters in the country's safer regions. In May, the Alert Level was reduced as seismic activity at La Soufrière began to decline and remains low, as reported by the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre. Since then, evacuated families were encouraged to return to their homes and attend to the damages incurred since the eruption.
However, extensive ashfall and mudslides, compounded by damages incurred from the recent Hurricane Elsa, have prevented other residents from returning to their homes and farms. As of July, IOM estimates that over 2000 persons still reside in emergency shelters and need to be prepared for a more extended period of displacement.
The government has identified state-owned land for building family-size shelters, creating new neighbourhoods for families who cannot return to their place of origin. Depending on the volcano's activity, most evacuees will need transitional shelter solutions for a period of six to nine months.
IOM will support the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the temporary relocation of internally displaced peoples from the volcanic eruption. IOM aims to strengthen NEMO's operational capacities to relocate the internally displaced families to emergency shelters where they can stay until developing durable housing solutions. As such, IOM is rehabilitating 20 emergency shelter facilities to host 1,120 evacuees.
Some of IOM's planned rehabilitation works include adding partitioning and floor space, upgrading bathroom facilities, minor building repairs, and providing non-food items.
Additionally, in coordination with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Government, this programme will support these buildings' rental, utility, security, and maintenance costs during the programme period.
"Hundreds will benefit from this emergency grant with the improvement of living conditions and hygienic facilities to persons impacted by the volcanic event" said Jan-Willem Wegdam, head of the IOM team responding to the situation in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.