The UK Government has committed just £200,000 through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) to support the regional response to the ongoing La Soufriere volcanic activity.
Commenting on the lack of support, Mr. O'Brien, said, "In a time of dire need, the UK Government's pitiful donation is a slap in the face to the people of St. Vincent & the Grenadines who, as members of the Commonwealth, find themselves in a desperate situation.”
He said the UK Government needs to step up increase substantially its aid and financial assistance as a matter of urgency, “This would be a small measure of the historical debt owed to these communities," O’Brien remarked.
The global Digicel group has so far donated $500k worth of much-needed items to support the urgent relief efforts in the country, with more donations coming from digicel regional branches.
Digicel in an April 20, 2021, press release said nations like St. Vincent & the Grenadines have historically been slave nations that were exploited by the UK and since its independence in 1979, the country has maintained strong political, legal, administrative, tourist and trade links with the UK.
“As part of the Windrush Generation, who assisted British reconstruction activities after the devastation of World War 2, they [people of St. Vincent] served in many occupations hit by labour shortages - yet their children were subjected to deportation and threats of deportation from the UK despite living and working there for decades because of a lack of official paperwork,” the release noted.
O'Brien noted that the ongoing La Soufriere volcanic activity has caused the mass displacement of over 30,000 people with food insecurity issues and a potential public health emergency.
As such, he called on the UK Government to step up and do more for St. Vincent and the Grenadines given its historical ties to the county.