The Department of Immigration has been instructed to create a policy for the BVI to house residents of St Vincent and the Grenadines who’ve had to evacuate their homes because of the ongoing eruption of the La Soufriere volcano.
Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley made that announcement in the House of Assembly on Thursday, April 15.
He said: “I have charged the department to come up with policy and logistics that would allow us to host persons here in the BVI for a period of time until the situation in St Vincent and the Grenadines stabilises”.
“Once completed and approved, it will be communicated with the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines and the wider public here in the BVI,” Wheatley added.
He made that statement against the backdrop that “many persons” in the territory have connections to St Vincent and have “expressed interest in housing them here in the BVI”.
While the Immigration Department irons out the details of this soon-to-be-implemented policy, Wheatley said government is coordinating with several local agencies to bring relief supplies to the volcano-affected country.
He described this as the BVI’s “first response to this crisis”.
The BVI will ship its first barge-load of water and relief items to the volcano-affected country next week.
BVI and St Vincent share a special diplomatic relationship. Currently, there are more than 2,000 Vincentian nationals living in the BVI. This represents the single largest sub-group of the BVI’s expatriate community.
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 honourary consul for the office.
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