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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 8 November 2012

The EU gives €6 million for emergency aid in the Caribbean after Hurricane Sandy

In response to serious damages caused by Hurricane Sandy, the European has released €6 million to bring immediate relief to the most vulnerable population severely affected by the hurricane in the Caribbean.

Cuba and Haiti are the worst hit countries by Hurricane Sandy, with respectively 3 and 1.5 million people affected; the Dominican Republic and Jamaica also suffered important damages. Crops and harvests are devastated, causing fears of food insecurity, while houses and infrastructure have been destroyed. The immediate priorities are access to food and to safe water, to avoid waterborne diseases and, in countries affected by cholera, to avoid an upsurge of cases. Extensive support is also needed to restore shelters and basic infrastructures.

"Hurricane Sandy is yet another example of the increasing intensity of natural disasters to which even the best prepared like the United States are not immune. Worst hit country is Haiti, a country still struggling to recover from the 2010 earthquake and cholera epidemic. This year only, Haiti was hit by a drought, followed by Tropical Storm Isaac in August, and now Hurricane Sandy in October. The combined impact of these disasters has been overwhelming for an already very vulnerable population. Cuba, on the other hand, has excellent disaster preparedness programmes but Hurricane Sandy had nonetheless caused serious damages in the eastern provinces. Preparedness cannot prevent a disaster from striking but it saves lives. This is the reason why we will provide immediate relief to the affected communities while continuing to support Disaster Risk Reduction programmes in the Caribbean," said Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.

The European Commission's emergency funding will provide immediate relief to people affected by Hurricane Sandy in Haiti and Cuba: providing food and basic household items, repairing houses, restoring water services. This €6 million funding will also be used to restore local agriculture, providing farmers with seeds and tools.

Background

From October 24, Hurricane Sandy ripped its way northwards in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, the Bahamas and the United States, claiming more than 190 lives. Haiti and Cuba are the two most affected countries in the Caribbean. Haiti suffered from heavy rainfall, flooding and mudslides which damaged buildings and crops; Cuba's eastern provinces have suffered large damage, especially the second-largest town, Santiago. Fatalities and damages were also reported in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Bahamas and the United States.

The European Commission's humanitarian experts on the ground are participating to the assessment of the situation to identify needs for assistance, such as emergency shelter, food assistance but also clean water and emergency sanitation to avoid water-borne diseases.

The Caribbean is amongst the most exposed regions in the world to natural hazards such as hurricanes, floods, landslides, mudslides and earthquakes. Since 1995, the European Commission has provided around €140 million in humanitarian aid to the region (excluding Haiti) to deal with disasters when they happen and to better prepare communities for any future natural disasters.

Haiti is currently the European Commission's largest operation in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Commission's response to the earthquake, in January 2010, was fast and decisive. The Commission also addressed with humanitarian assistance the cholera epidemic declared in October 2010. The Commission continues to support the relocation to safe and decent places to live for the people displaced in camps since the earthquake, the stemming of the cholera epidemic and the building of resilience against future disasters. The Commission's total humanitarian contribution to Haiti since 2009 is €195 million. In addition the European Commission dedicated €522 million for medium- and long-term development and reconstruction of Haiti.

Cuba is a disaster-prone country but is renowned for its disaster preparedness capacity. In 2008, the European Commission offered an emergency assistance of €2 million in response to hurricanes Gustav and Ike. More than 3 million people were evacuated before the hurricanes, which helped avoid a major loss of life. Despite prevention, damages the successive hurricanes caused large damage on housing, social and health infrastructure and agriculture. The European Commission emergency funding was used to repair shelter and distribute basic household items.

For more information

The European Commission's humanitarian response in the Caribbean:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/aid/caribbean_pacific/caribbean_en.htm

The European Commission's humanitarian response in Haiti:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/aid/caribbean_pacific/haiti_en.htm

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/georgieva/index_en.htm

Contacts :

Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)

David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)


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