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Brussels, 26 February 2010

The Commission's civil protection and humanitarian response following the earthquake in Haiti

The Commission's civil protection and humanitarian services reacted swiftly following the earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January with MIC and ECHO experts immediately sent to coordinate the EU's response and assess needs. The Commission’s overall humanitarian response in Haiti is worth €120 million while €4.5 million has been provided to support the transport of civil protection equipment and other assistance from EU Member States.

Civil Protection

The European Civil Protection Mechanism was activated immediately following the earthquake, on 12 January. Through the Mechanism, the Commission coordinated assistance from 25 European countries. The first EU Search and Rescue Teams arrived within 24 hours. In total, European nations sent 12 search and rescue teams, two field hospitals, five advanced medical posts, 38 medical teams and six water sanitation units. In-kind assistance, such as medicines, tents and blankets, was also provided.

The first of the EU civil protection teams reached Haiti on 14 January. Composed of experts from Member States and liaison officers from the EU Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), the teams coordinated incoming European assistance, supported the UN and carried out needs assessments in affected areas. In many cases, they were able to boost the effectiveness of the European effort. For example, they facilitated coordination between the Belgian and the Italian field hospitals to optimise the immediate treatment of patients with multiple fractures and helped Germany in arranging transport for 30 tonnes of equipment to three different locations. EU humanitarian aid and civil protection teams on site worked closely together.

The EU provided €4.5 million to support the transport of assistance from Member States. The Commission also deployed a medical post and a water purification unit. These projects are run by Member States but deployed centrally from the Commission as EU Rapid Response Capability.

Humanitarian assistance

The Commission's humanitarian assistance was provided through an initial fast-track funding decision for €3 million on the day after the earthquake followed rapidly by an emergency decision for €19m. These sums complemented funding from existing relief programmes in Haiti at the time of the earthquake worth more than €8m.

Haiti's rainy season is due to start in the next few weeks, with the hurricane season beginning in June. Given the major humanitarian needs still to be addressed, a further €90 million has been allocated, bringing the Commission’s overall humanitarian response in Haiti to over €120 million. The total amount for EU humanitarian aid, which includes relief funds from Member States, now stands at more than €311 million.

The aid focuses on sectors of particular humanitarian concern: shelter, water/sanitation, health, essential household items, food assistance and livelihood support. Particular attention is also being paid to protection issues including gender-based violence, child protection and disaster risk reduction.

The EU's relief effort is geared to ensure a balanced geographical coverage by targeting not only Port-au-Prince but also other cities affected by the earthquake, notably Léogâne and Jacmel, as well as people who have left Port-au-Prince for other departments in the country and the host families accommodating them.

In view of the magnitude of the needs, it is essential to link emergency assistance to the rehabilitation and reconstruction phases from the outset. Work has already begun on this with a recent mission by experts from various Commission and EU Member State services to identify priorities for the immediate non-humanitarian response. The focus here will be on re-establishing and strengthening national capacities.

A Post-Disaster Needs Assessment, which is also on-going, will assist in linking the relief and reconstruction phases, with an emphasis on sustainable solutions.

For photographs, click on the following link and go to "Haiti > Earthquake 2010"

The map below shows the location, by department and partner, of ECHO-funded projects under the €19 million emergency decision adopted on 3 February.

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