From the over 600 Vincentians who have applied to relocate to other Eastern Caribbean states in the wake of the La Soufriere eruption, few have shown interest in coming to Barbados, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves said Monday.
He told Barbados TODAY that up to Friday, 608 people had applied through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to seek relocation.
Dr Gonsalves said: “There are a few persons interested in going to Barbados to meet friends and family temporarily… but that is not where our focus is on, the OECS countries, those which have made preparations like Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts, Antigua and even some private homes in St Lucia.”
But the Vincentian leader said that overall he didn’t expect many people to take up the offer to relocate to other territories after the volcano caused the dislocation of over 16,000 people.
He said: “We have asked the cruise ships to go because there wasn’t much of a take-up… I didn’t expect a flood of persons to go but whatever the trickle is to accommodate, particularly those who have family and friends but as of Friday it was reported to me that the Minister of Foreign Affairs had 608 persons who have applied to be considered to be relocated temporarily to one country or the other.
“I’ll focus on three or four of the [Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States] countries who seem very well prepared to receive persons in whatever condition they were to lay down and we will facilitate that.
The thing is this, we have to abide by whatever conditions for entry into those countries. This is a time of COVID-19 so some countries may require naturally the PCR tests and they will have to quarantine and vaccinate, whatever it is.”
In commenting on the overall management of the humanitarian crisis, Dr Gonsalves said: “In short, up to this point the systems have worked well but we cannot be in a state of self-congratulation – there is more work to be done and there is a new phase.”