Brussels, 3 September 2012
The European Commission helps Haiti recover from tropical storm Isaac and prepare for the rest of the hurricane season
The European Commission is scaling up its assistance in Haiti to bring relief to the people most affected by tropical storm Isaac and to boost their resilience to future storms as the hurricane season begins in one of the world's most disaster-prone regions.
With a new funding decision worth €3 million, the Commission will provide water purification kits, plastic sheeting, temporary shelters and other emergency equipment. Special attention will be paid to the provision of clean water and adequate sanitation to avoid epidemics of cholera.
"Our aid will reach over 20,000 families affected by Isaac in Haiti. Our experts' assessment after the storm reveals a very worrying situation, especially in the rural areas previously affected by a drought," said the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva.
Preliminary figures show that 100,000 people were affected by the heavy rains and strong winds caused by tropical cyclone Isaac that hit Haiti during the night of 24 August. The storm carried particularly high risks for this poor country where, two and a half years after the 7.0 earthquake, approximately 400,000 people continue to live in camps and are vulnerable to heavy rains, flooding and mud-slides.
The European Commission's humanitarian partners on the ground work to boost Haitians' disaster preparedness (through awareness campaigns, support to civil protection and the Red Cross, activation of the early warning systems, etc.). Such efforts to mitigate the impact of disasters are paying off – for instance, ahead of Isaac's landfall, stocks of food, shelter materials, blankets, containers for water, etc. were pre-positioned at critical points in Haiti. Over 15,000 vulnerable people were evacuated to stable shelter (such as schools and churches). Relief workers also toured tent camps to warn about the upcoming storm, while text messages were being sent out to tens of thousands of people urging them to stay away from rivers and evacuate tent camps in case the storm hits.
After passing over the Caribbean Sea and unleashing heavy rain on parts of Puerto Rico, tropical storm Isaac moved along the southern cost of Haiti. Isaac is now forecast to move north, traverse Arkansas and move into Missouri early on September 1st, weakening gradually.
Haiti is the largest beneficiary of the European Commission's humanitarian assistance in Latin America and the Caribbean, while the European Union is the largest relief aid donor to the country.
For 2012, the Commission has set aside €15.25 million in humanitarian aid for Haiti. Its assistance focuses on helping cope with displacement, responding to the cholera epidemics and reducing the risk of disasters.
The Commission responded swiftly to the massive needs after the 7.0 earthquake on January 12th 2010, initially allocating €100 million. The funds helped provide hundreds of thousands of affected people with shelter, safe drinking water, food and essentials such as blankets, kitchen utensils and hygiene. About 5 million people have benefited from these projects. The Commission has also helped cope with the cholera epidemic, investing in treatment facilities, water and sanitation and the promotion of good hygiene. Around 3 million people have benefitted from this aid.
Disaster preparedness has been another high priority for the EU, with more than €27 million supporting mitigation works, support to the recovery of the Haitian civil protection services and information campaigns among the most vulnerable communities.
For more information
The European Commission's humanitarian response in Haiti:
Commissioner Georgieva's website:
The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection:
Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)
David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)