UNITED NATIONS, April 15 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations has approved 1 million U.S. dollars for humanitarian aid to victims of the volcano eruption in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Undersecretary-General Mark Lowcock, the UN emergency relief coordinator, on Thursday announced urgent assistance for people affected by the April 9 eruption of La Soufriere volcano on the northern end of the Caribbean island of St. Vincent.
Agencies of the world body are distributing drinking water and hygiene kits to evacuated people, and providing supplies to clean water sources and cash to some of the most vulnerable people, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a release.
Up to 20,000 people have been evacuated from the "red zone" around the volcano. About 4,500 people stay in shelters, while many evacuated are with families and friends.
People close to the volcano face heavy ashfall and lava flows, which damage crops and farming equipment and affect livestock farming, OCHA said.
Humanitarians are concerned that food insecurity and poverty, already on the rise because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will worsen even further. Most homes in Saint Vincent are without water, and most of the country's 110,000 people are affected by the ashfall.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, located in the southern Caribbean, consists of more than 30 islands and cays, but only nine are inhabited. La Soufriere, 1,234 meters high, dominates the largest island, Saint Vincent, and has been silent since 1979. It began spewing smoke and rumbling in December before erupting on April 9.