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Hurricane Irma: EU mobilising emergency response tools

The European Union is mobilising its emergency response tools to assist the countries already affected or threatened by Hurricane Irma. High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said “The European Union is fully supporting our friends and partners in the Caribbean region and beyond at this time of need. Our hearts are with all the victims and all people affected by Hurricane Irma.” Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said: “The EU is working around the clock to help the countries and areas hit by this disaster. As a global player in emergency response to natural disasters, we are on full alert for this latest hurricane. We have already taken immediate steps to gear up all our crisis response tools. Our EU Emergency Centre and our humanitarian offices in the Caribbean region are closely monitoring all developments.” As a first step, the EU’s Copernicus satellite mapping system has been activated. At the request of France, Copernicus satellites are providing maps for Guadeloupe, Saint Barthélémy and Saint Martin. Haiti and the Dominican Republic are also receiving Copernicus support and it stands ready to be used for other areas. Furthermore, a team of Commission humanitarian experts is in Haiti and in the Dominican Republic. More staff is available for deployment in the area in case needed. The Commission’s 24/7 Emergency Response Coordination Centre has contacted all participating states in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and is prepared to channel any assistance requested by the affected countries. The Commission’s regional humanitarian aid office in Managua, which acts as a coordination hub for the Caribbean region is fully operational to coordinate any necessary assistance.  The EU solidarity Fund is could also be mobilised to provide support for reconstruction efforts. The EU recently helped the US authorities following Hurricane Harvey, by providing emergency satellite imagery through its Copernicus system.