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European Civil Protection effort in Haiti continues as first coordination team hands over to a fresh team

Commission Européenne - IP/10/61   27/01/2010

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IP/10/61

Brussels, 27 January 2010

European Civil Protection effort in Haiti continues as first coordination team hands over to a fresh team

As relief efforts in Haiti following the devastating 12 January earthquake continue, the European Civil Protection Mechanism is now facilitating assistance from 24 Member States. Part of the EU-financed EU Rapid Response Capability is being used in an emergency for the first time, providing fresh water and medical care. A new EU Civil Protection team arrived in Haiti over the weekend to take over on-site coordination from the first team, which had been in Haiti since 36 hours after the quake.

Stavros Dimas, EU Commissioner with responsibility for civil protection, said: "The EU response to the terrible tragedy in Haiti has been quick and effective. Our Civil Protection team on the ground is doing a tremendous job in difficult circumstances. For the population of Haiti, a difficult time awaits: many of the injured will require further treatment, and displaced people still need food and shelter. Together with our colleagues from humanitarian aid and under the guidance of Commission Vice-President Ashton, we will continue to assist the Haitians in the aftermath of this terrible event."

EU Rapid Response

As well as coordinating European assistance, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism is also making a direct contribution to the relief effort. For the first time, part of the EU-financed EU Rapid Response Capability is being used in an emergency. Dispatched at the request of the Commission, a water purification module developed by France is now operational in Port-au-Prince and providing 20,000 litres of water daily. An advanced medical post with surgery developed by Italy has been set up next to a children's hospital in Port-au-Prince and is treating around 50 patients per day, almost all requiring extensive surgery due to massive trauma. In addition, the amount of EU financial support awarded or requested for transport of assistance to Haiti now stands at over €3 million.

A seven-man team on the ground

The first EU Civil Protection team arrives back in Brussels on Wednesday, 27 January, after nearly two weeks in Haiti, and is replaced by a fresh team of experts from Italy, Denmark, France, Sweden, the Netherlands and two liaison officers from the Commission's Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC). The new team is working closely with the UN to identify further civil protection needs and facilitate the coordination of assistance channelled through the Community Civil Protection Mechanism. The Civil Protection team is also in regular contact with the Commission's humanitarian aid experts from DG ECHO. On Monday, the team met with Haitian President Préval and Prime Minister Bellerive to discuss urgent needs such as shelter and food.

The Community Mechanism for Civil Protection

The Community Mechanism facilitates cooperation in disaster response. Some 31 states participate in the Community Mechanism (EU-27 plus Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). They pool resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world through the Mechanism. When activated, the Mechanism ensures the coordination of assistance interventions inside and outside the European Union. Such activities are coordinated by the European Commission through the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) in Brussels.

Since its creation in 2001, the Mechanism has been activated for disasters worldwide, including Hurricane Katrina in the US in 2005, the 2008 earthquake in China and the forest fires in Southern Europe 2009.

During the Haiti emergency, 24 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria,  Denmark,  Estonia,  Finland, France, Germany, Greece,  Hungary,  Iceland, Ireland,  Italy, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands,  Norway,  Poland , Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia,  Spain, Sweden, and UK) have provided assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism including urban search and rescue (USAR) teams, medical teams and supplies, shelter, water sanitation units and hygiene articles.

Preparatory Action on an EU Rapid Response Capability

The European Parliament and Council have allocated €15m for a preparatory action on an EU rapid response capability. The EU Rapid Response Capability is designed to respond immediately to critical needs arising from major disasters. It consists of dedicated civil protection modules for European civil protection interventions. By ensuring that key resources and essential equipment are on stand by, the preparatory action is intended to enhance Europe's collective preparedness for major disasters. The first units developed under the preparatory action are now available for deployment; the 2009 pilot project on an EU Forest Fire Technical Reserve was also part of this programme.

For more details see

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/civil/haiti_2010_news.htm

and for details on the Rapid Response Capacity see:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/civil/prote/prep_action2008.htm


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