UN seeks nearly $30 million in volcano aid for St Vincent

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This April 11, 2021 image shows the view from the Belmont Observatory in Saint Vincent as the La Soufriere eruption continues

The United Nations launched an appeal Tuesday for donations of more than $29 million to help Saint Vincent and the Grenadines following several devastating volcanic eruptions that have turned the landscape of the Caribbean nation "apocalyptic."

The La Soufriere volcano erupted for the first time in 40 years on April 9. Eruptions have continued to occur daily, with ash clouds covering the country and reaching surrounding islands.

The ash, mixed with recent rains, have turned the north of the island "apocalyptic and desolated," Didier Trebucq, UN coordinator for Barbados and eastern Caribbean countries, said Tuesday after two days visiting.

He said the tiny nation needed $29.2 million in aid from the UN appeal fund.

The UN has already released $1 million in emergency funding but "much more is needed" to supply residents with food, water and shelter, Trebucq said during a joint press conference with Saint Vincent's prime minister, Ralph Gonsalves.

The premier noted that the country was already struggling from the Covid-19 pandemic which has shut its borders, depriving it of important tourist income.

"We are in a dire situation. We really need help," said Gonsalves.

The eruptions have not killed anyone but nearly one fifth of the country's 110,000 people have been evacuated to safer areas.

They have come at a precarious time with the Atlantic hurricane season due to start in six weeks.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is the smallest state ever to sit on the UN Security Council, where its two-year term as a non-permanent member ends in December.

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