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UN Releases $1M in Emergency Funding for St. Vincent

FILE - Ash rises into the air as the La Soufriere volcano erupts on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent, April 13, 2021.

The United Nations on Thursday released $1 million from its emergency fund to provide aid to the Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines following a series of devastating volcanic eruptions, the body's spokesman said.

The funds will provide for "urgent humanitarian assistance to impacted people, especially those who have been evacuated," Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

U.N. agencies will be able to distribute drinking water and hygiene kits, as well as money for the most vulnerable to buy food, he said.

About 20,000 people were evacuated from the vicinity of the La Soufriere volcano on St. Vincent, which began erupting last Friday for the first time since 1979.

About 4,500 people are in shelters, and the country's airspace is closed.

"Most homes in St. Vincent are without water, and most of the country's 110,000 people have been impacted by ash fall," Dujarric said.

Eruptions have continued to occur daily, with ash clouds covering the country and reaching surrounding islands.

The U.N. said Wednesday that depending on winds, the volcanic eruptions could have an environmental and economic impact on Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Lucia, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Martinique, and Guadeloupe.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the smallest state to ever sit on the U.N. Security Council, where its two-year term as a nonpermanent member ends in December.