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In response to the deadly hurricanes Harvey and Irma that have recently wreaked havoc across the Caribbean Region and the states of Florida, Texas and Louisiana, the European Union mobilised emergency response instruments to assist countries affected or threatened by these unprecedented natural disasters. As the EU continues to prioritise the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the Union is also boosting its ability to mobilise quickly and efficiently in solidarity with those affected by climate change and all natural disaster.
"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 the hurricane," said EU High Representative Federica Mogherini.
The EU in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey helped the US authorities by providing satellite imagery via its satellite mapping system Copernicus. The islands of Guadeloupe, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, Haiti and the Dominican Republic have also received Copernicus support. In addition, a team of humanitarian experts was deployed to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Additional personnel are ready to be sent in the area as needed. The EU regional humanitarian aid office in Managua which acts as the focal point for the Caribbean region is fully operational to coordinate any assistance that may be required.
Today additional EU funding is on its way. The European Union has released an initial amount of humanitarian assistance of €2 million for the most affected islands in the Caribbean. This will help support key sectors such as water and sanitation, health, waste management and logistics.
When countries face natural disasters such as tropical hurricanes, or are in need of emergency assistance due to other crises, the EU has a wide range of emergency response. Together with funding provided by EU Member States, the European Union is the world's largest donor of humanitarian aid. Aid is provided to those most in need, for example those who are forcibly displaced within different areas of the world. All humanitarian aid is impartial and independent, and is provided to non-governmental and international organisations, the United Nations and the Red Cross societies.
Overall, EU humanitarian assistance in 2016 helped more than 120 million people caught up in natural disasters or conflict in over 80 countries across the world. European solidarity is overwhelming supported by EU citizens: almost nine out of ten Europeans think that EU-funded humanitarian aid is important, according to the most recent Eurobarometer survey.
But the EU's approach goes well beyond emergency aid, focusing on prevention. It is with a longer term view to the security and humanitarian challenges climate change creates, that the High Representative recently reaffirmed that EU "will also continue to support the Paris agreement and to work for its implementation – here in Europe and all around the world, building coalitions in support of global climate action."