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EU Contribution To UN Relief Effort In Kyrgyzstan

EU makes substantial contribution to UN's relief effort in Kyrgyzstan

The European Union is providing urgent shelter assistance to Kyrgyzstan through the EC Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), which is responsible for the mobilisation and coordination of EU Member States' civil protection assistance in the event of major emergencies.

A request for assistance circulated by the MIC on 3 January 2008 triggered generous reactions from States participating in the Community Civil Protection Mechanism. Help was forthcoming in particular from Sweden, Austria, Slovakia and Bulgaria.

Commissioner for Environment, Stavros Dimas, said: "Our Member States' rapid and generous reaction shows how European civil protection assistance can contribute to the UN's overall relief efforts in a coordinated and efficient way. The European Union's efforts in the first two days helped alleviate this humanitarian emergency and ease the suffering of the people in Kyrgyzstan. "

On New Year's day, an earthquake of magnitude 5.6 occurred in he South of Kyrgyzstan in a remote area some 30 kilometres from the city of Osh. Earlier, on 26 December 2007, an earthquake of magnitude 5.3 was recorded at approximately the same location. The combination of the two earthquakes soon after each other has caused damage to houses and public infrastructure. Some 500 families (approximately 3000 people) are reported displaced as a result and require humanitarian assistance, in particular shelter.

The Government of Kyrgyzstan appealed for international assistance through the UN system, urgently requesting 500 winterised tents and 500 heating devises to protect the affected population against the harsh winter climate. The requested items cannot be locally procured.

The EU reacted swiftly through the MIC, which immediately alerted the network of Member States' civil protection authorities and established close cooperation with UN OCHA. This resulted in the following offers of assistance:

90 winterised tents and heating devices
20 winterised tents and heating devices
25 winterised tents as well as 1000 items of warm clothing
20 winterised tents and heating devices (transport still to be arranged)

The total contribution of the EU Member States consists of 155 winterised tens, 130 heating devices and 1000 items of warm clothing. The EU contribution complements the overall UN relief effort, which further includes 120 tents (donated by Norway and scheduled to arrive on Wednesday), 203 mattresses and sleeping bags, 400 blankets, kitchen sets, items of clothing and related assistance.

The Community Mechanism for Civil Protection

The Community Mechanism[1] aims to facilitate reinforced cooperation in civil protection assistance interventions. It ensures the coordination of assistance intervention in order to provide prompt support and to assist a country (inside and outside the European Union) in need of help. The main objective is to provide the best possible response and preparedness when a major emergency situation arises. Such activities are coordinated by the Commission through the activation of its Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), located in DG Environment, Civil Protection Unit.

30 states[2] participate in the Community Mechanism. These pool those resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world through this mechanism.

Since its creation, the Mechanism has been activated for a number of disasters worldwide, including the 2003 earthquake in Iran; the 2004 tsunami affected South East Asia; the 2005 forest fires in Portugal, flooding in Bulgaria and Romania, Hurricane Katrina in the US and the earthquake in Pakistan in 2005, the Lebanon crisis in 2006. This year the Mechanism was activated for floods in Bolivia, as well as forest fires in Italy, Greece and Cyprus. More recently the Mechanism was activated for the oil spills in the Kerch Strait (Black Sea) and in South Korea.

For more information:
Civil Protection Unit:

[1] Council Decision of 23 October (2001/792/EC, Euratom) (OJ L297, 15.11.2001, p.7)

[2] EU 27, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway

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