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European Commission - Press release

More European aid is dispatched for the victims of Brazzaville explosion

Brussels, 14 March 2012 - The European Commission is increasing its assistance in the Republic of Congo to help cope with the consequences of the ammunition explosion that caused massive damage in Brazzaville on 4 March 2012. Following the initial announcement of €200,000 of funding, the Commission will boost its aid to €1.25 million and will deploy a civil protection team to help the authorities with advice and expertise.

Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for Crisis Response visited Brazzaville just one day after the explosions. "I saw for myself the scale of the destruction and the human suffering in Brazzaville. Thousands of survivors need medical care, shelter and other basic assistance, while the authorities need advice in civil protection and disaster response. We will deploy our resources in both humanitarian aid and civil protection to meet their immediate needs in the hope to avoid a protracted emergency," Commissioner Georgieva said.

The Commission's humanitarian assistance will be delivered through partner organisations on the ground: the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) to assist the displaced with clean water, sanitation, shelter and the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) to help remove the unexploded ordinances from the devastated area so that civilians can safely return and rebuild their homes.

Through the European Union's Civil Protection Mechanism, the Commission is also sending an expert mission to Brazzaville. It will assess the capacities of the emergency services of the Republic of Congo and will assist the government in coping with the consequences of this emergency. The team will also provide recommendations on how to improve the country's crisis response capacity.

Three more experts in civil protection have been sent by the Commission's Monitoring and Information Centre to work with the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team deployed to Brazzaville. Their task is to assess the structural stability of houses, in particular schools and hospitals affected by the explosion.

Background

A series of ammunition explosions took place in Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo's capital, on March 4. Large areas of the city were damaged badly. At least 200 people were killed, thousands were injured and many more have been left homeless. The immediate humanitarian needs are shelter, sanitation, water and medical care.

The European Commission's surge in humanitarian support comes in the form of an emergency funding decision. These are taken after crises where a rapid and flexible response is needed.

To ensure their complementarity in disaster situations, humanitarian aid and civil protection are grouped together at the European Commission, in the portfolio of Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva.

Together with humanitarian funding, the European Commission helps in crises through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism which facilitates cooperation in disaster response among 32 European states (EU-27 plus Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). The participants pool resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world. When activated, the Mechanism coordinates the provision of assistance inside and outside the European Union. The European Commission manages the Mechanism through the Monitoring and Information Centre.

Since its creation in 2001, the Mechanism has been activated for disasters in Member States (like the forest fires in Portugal, the explosion at a Cyprus naval base in 2011 and the floods and extreme winter in the Balkans in 2012). The Mechanism is also active worldwide, including after the earthquakes in Haiti, Japan and Turkey.

For more information

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

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

The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm

Contacts :

David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)

Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)


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