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Tortola, BVI

Hurricane Irma has left substantial damage in the British Virgin Islands, and other Caribbean islands. (Photo: Edson Boyea, Tortola/BVI)

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In the aftermath of hurricane Irma which has devastated communities across the Leeward Islands and the northern Caribbean, the European Union (EU) says it has released an initial amount of emergency relief assistance of €2,000,000 for the most affected islands.

This support is in addition to emergency assistance which the grouping began providing since last week, as the storm approached the Caribbean. The EU had activated its Copernicus satellite mapping system to deliver high quality maps for Guadeloupe, Saint Barthélémy and Saint Martin at the request of France, and for Sint Maarten at the request of the Netherlands; as well as for the British Virgin Islands.

The Commission has also activated Copernicus for areas of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and EU humanitarian experts deployed across the region continue to help local authorities and coordinate aid deliveries.

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Banking facility in Tortola, British Virgin Islands destroyed by hurricane Irma (Photo: Edson Boyea, Tortola/BVI)

EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides said in a release that, “Hurricane Irma has left a trail of devastation across many countries. It is our moral duty to help those in need whose lives and homes are being destroyed or severely threatened.”

Stylianides said that the €2M funding would help support key sectors such as water and sanitation, health, waste management, and logistics; and that further support for reconstruction efforts is available in terms of longer term assistance.

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“Let me make it clear that any country in the region can request our help through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. We stand ready to provide any further assistance to the affected countries”, he said.

The Commission is also supporting a Disaster Relief Emergency Fund operation by the International Federation of the Red Cross, providing basic relief kits to the affected populations in Antigua and Barbuda. Furthermore, a team of EU humanitarian experts is deployed in Haiti and in the Dominican Republic.

The EU also supported the US authorities during Hurricane Harvey by providing use of its Copernicus satellite service.