As the eruption of La Soufriere volcano continues to impact St Vincent and the Grenadines, Premier Andrew Fahie has said government is keen to fulfil its “humanitarian duty” and assist the country.
He gave that indication on the Umoja radio programme this week; saying St Vincent helped the BVI after the September 2017 hurricanes, so the territory wants to “repay” them in kind. Residents of the BVI are, therefore, waiting to hear exactly how the government will assist Vincentians.
But while some residents have expressed their willingness to assist and even house their Caribbean neighbours, other members of the BVI public have shunned the idea, saying the BVI cannot afford any additional problems at the moment.
And with no active volcanoes in the BVI, some residents have turned a blind eye to the happenings in St Vincent altogether. But should the BVI be concerned?
The answer is yes.
Carib’n scientists’ recent statements
Amid the eruption in St Vincent, Caribbean scientists have moved to assure leaders of the Eastern Caribbean that the ongoing eruption isn’t likely to trigger other active volcanoes in the region.
But why was that assurance even necessary?
The Eastern Caribbean — of which the BVI is a part — currently has 19 live volcanoes; meaning they are likely to erupt at any time.
And though the BVI has no volcanoes, it is subject to volcanic hazards such as severe ash fall and volcanically-generated tsunamis (depending on where volcanic activity takes place).
A volcanically and seismically active archipelago
Other non-volcanic islands — Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, most of the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago — are also subject to volcanic hazards if a neighbouring volcanic island is affected.
Meanwhile, countries like Grenada, St Vincent, St Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Nevis, St Kitts, St Eustatius and Saba all have ‘live’ volcanic centres.
Therefore, though the BVI has no active volcanoes, La Soufriere is closer to home than some BVI residents may think as the Eastern Caribbean is a seismically active archipelago.
In the meantime, BVI News has received a few messages from residents of St Vincent, asking whether the territory will temporarily house residents of their country.
Special diplomatic relationship
Though this hasn’t been confirmed by the government, the idea isn’t far-fetched as the BVI and St Vincent share a special diplomatic relationship.
Currently, there are more than 2,000 Vincentian nationals presently in the BVI. St Vincent and the Grenadines also recently became the first CARICOM country to establish a consular office in the British Virgin Islands.
Bishop Ishmael Charles is St Vincent’s first honorary consul for the office.
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