One of the region’s most powerful international allies has stepped in to help countries affected by the dreadful Hurricane Irma.
European Union (EU) Ambassador for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Daniela Tramacere, while offering condolences to families and countries that have witnessed loss of life as a result of the hurricane, which battered the Leeward Islands between Tuesday and Wednesday as a category 5, said the EU was “mobilizing its emergency response instruments”.
EU High Representative and Vice-President Federica Mogherini also expressed sadness over the losses, adding that “the European Union fully supports our partners and friends in the Caribbean region and beyond at this time of great need, and our hearts go out to all the victims and all those affected by Hurricane Irma”.
Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides gave the assurance that the EU was working on a continuous basis to help the affected countries.
Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade, caused devastation and millions of dollars worth of damage to property, infrastructure and livestock before barreling out of the Leeward Islands.
So far at least ten lives have reportedly been lost – one in Barbuda, four in French-speaking St Martin and others in Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.
With damage assessments still be carried out, preliminary estimates are that the losses suffered by the 61 square mile island of Barbuda, which was home to about 1,800 people, was in the order of EC$150 million (Bds$111 million).
“The EU is working on a continuous basis to help the countries and areas affected by this disaster, and as a global player in emergency response to natural disasters we are fully alert to the latest hurricane. We have already taken immediate steps to prepare all our crisis response instruments. Our European Emergency Centre and our humanitarian aid offices in the Caribbean region are closely following all developments,” said Stylianides.
At the request of France, the European satellite mapping system Copernicus was activated, it provided maps to Guadeloupe, St Barthelemy and St Martin. Haiti and the Dominican Republic have also received Copernicus support and the system stands ready for use in other areas, the EU said.
In addition, a team of humanitarian experts from the Commission is presently in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Additional personnel will be deployed as needed.
The EU said its 24/7 Emergency Response Coordination Response Centre has contacted the countries participating in the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism and was prepared to provide assistance.
“The regional humanitarian aid office of the Commission in Managua, which acts as the focal point for the Caribbean region, is fully operational to coordinate any assistance that may be required,” the EU added.