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Humanitarian support for earthquake victims: EC

Humanitarian support for earthquake victims: Commission’s immediate response

Early this morning, the European Commission formally adopted its fast track humanitarian decision for €3 million announced yesterday to provide urgent assistance to the victims of the South Asia earthquake. €600,000 has also been earmarked from funds already available under a previous decision. The aim is to meet immediate humanitarian needs such as shelter, blankets, water, food and medical assistance. The funds are being channelled by the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), under the responsibility of the Commissioner Louis Michel, through experienced operational partners already working in the region.

On Saturday 8 October 2005, at 08.52 local time, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake occurred with its epicentre 95 km north-east of Islamabad, Pakistan. This is believed to be one of the largest earthquakes to hit the region over the last hundred years.

Latest reports are that more than 20,000 people have died and in excess of 40,000 have been injured across the region. Hundreds of thousands of people are homeless.

The Pakistani Government has requested international assistance and highlighted the need for support in immediate relief. Immediately following the disaster, the European Commission allocated €3.6 million for emergency aid, and EU experts were dispatched to the field to carry out emergency assessments. The most urgent needs already identified are: medical aid and supplies, shelter (winterised tents), blanket and non-food items, water and sanitation, food aid and specific actions such as logistics, telecommunications in emergency and coordination.

To deliver the aid, the European Commission works with experienced implementing partners who have been operating in the region for many years, providing relief to victims of natural disasters and conflicts.

Based on the needs assessed so far, the Commission is already working on a follow-up funding decision for more extensive aid. Areas likely to be covered include emergency and psychosocial support for children and orphans.

EU's Civil Protection Mechanism

The EU's Civil Protection Mechanism was launched on Saturday, following a request for assistance by the Member States.

The role of the Mechanism is to coordinate civil protection assistance from the member states in the most efficient way, to make sure that what is sent is actually also what is needed on site.

So far, France, UK, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Poland and the Netherlands sent assistance in the form of Search and Rescue teams, medical doctors, field hospitals etc. Other countries (Italy, Hungary and Finland) have also offered assistance, which will be deployed when the needs on site are assessed.

More information:

http://europa.eu.int/comm/echo/index_en.htm

Further details on the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism and its Monitoring and Information Centre can be found in Memo/05/306 and http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/civil/index.htm

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