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Brussels, 11 March 2008

Floods in Ecuador – EU sends MIC expert team to assist

The European Commission, through the Community Civil Protection Mechanism and its Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), has sent an expert team to Guayaquil, Ecuador. Its task is to help the Ecuadorian Civil Defence and the United Nations deal with the floods that have ravaged the country for the past 13 weeks. The MIC team will help coordinate the response to the disaster, assist with logistical management, evaluate the damage caused by the floods and provide technical expertise in updating emergency plans. The Community Civil Protection Mechanism can provide assistance anywhere in the world in response to a request.

The emergency in Ecuador is far from over," said Stavros Dimas, Commissioner for the Environment and Civil Protection. "The European Commission has been monitoring the situation on the ground through the MIC, and was therefore ready to react when the request for assistance arrived. Our expertise has been highly valued in similar emergencies in recent years, and as ever we will do all we can to assist the people of Ecuador".

Ecuador has been hit by the heaviest rains in 25 years on account of the La Niña phenomenon, resulting in large-scale flooding in 13 of the country's 24 provinces, with the loss of 19 lives. The rains are expected to continue until April. The floods have affected between 250 000 to 300 000 people so far, of whom some 100 000 are in need of immediate assistance. More than 13 000 persons are housed in temporary shelters. The scale of the emergency prompted the Ecuadorian Civil Defence to contact the European Commission's disaster-response office – the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) – through the EC Delegation in Quito.

In response to the request, the MIC deployed on Sunday an expert team on site. The expert team consists of five experts from France, Germany, Austria, Sweden and Spain as well as a MIC liaison officer. The team will have its headquarters in the Regional Emergency Coordination Committee in Guayaquil, the regional coordination office in the affected region. The team will cooperate closely with the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid office (DG ECHO) and the UNDAC (United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination) team on site.

The Community Mechanism for Civil Protection

The Community Mechanism[1] is intended to improve cooperation on civil protection assistance operations. It ensures the coordination of assistance, providing prompt support and assisting any country inside or outside the European Union that needs of help. The main objective is to provide the best possible response and preparedness when a major emergency arises. These activities are coordinated by the Commission through its Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), located in DG Environment's Civil Protection Unit.

Thirty states[2] participate in the Community Mechanism, and the resulting pool of resources can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world.

Since the Mechanism became operational in 2002, it has been activated for a number of disasters around the world. These have included the 2004 tsunami in South East Asia, the 2005 forest fires in Portugal, flooding in Bulgaria and Romania, Hurricane Katrina in the US, the earthquake in Pakistan in 2005 and the Lebanon crisis in 2006. In 2007 the Mechanism was activated for floods in Bolivia, as well as for forest fires in Italy, Greece and Cyprus. More recently the Mechanism was activated for oil spills in Ukraine and South Korea as well as an earthquake in Kyrgyzstan.

For more information:

European Civil Protection:

[1] Council Decision of 8 November (2007/779/EC, Euratom) (OJ L314, 01.12.2007, p.9)

[2] EU 27, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway

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