Tuesday, November 11, 2008

European Union praises Cuba's disaster response as effective


2008-11-11 08:39:04

BRUSSELS, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel praised on Monday Cuba's response to Hurricane Paloma that struck the island at the weekend as "effective."

"The 2008 hurricane season is one of the worst Cuba has faced for many years. But the country has a highly effective disaster response system and thanks to this, many lives have certainly been saved," a press release from the EU's executive commission quoted Michel as saying.

"Good early warning, evacuation procedures and shelter networks make a huge difference, but when such powerful storms hit, damage to infrastructure, homes and crops is inevitable," he added.

He pledged that the commission would be ready "to provide further emergency support if needed, to help tackle any suffering resulting from Hurricane Paloma, in solidarity with the people of Cuba, who have been hit severely by three hurricanes in three months."

Hurricane Paloma hit Cuba as a category four storm at the very end of the hurricane season, which saw the devastating Hurricanes Gustav and Ike this summer.

The Cuban authorities evacuated more than 1 million people before Paloma struck the island.

The commission, through its Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO), is currently funding five relief projects in Cuba from a 2-million-euro allocation that was provided following Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

Michel has also tasked a technical mission to visit Cuba next week to analyze existing needs and the identification of possible further commission support, the press release said.

Disaster preparedness is just one of the areas being considered for joint-action between Cuba and the European Commission since the relaunch of bilateral cooperation in October.

Editor: Sally

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