This week, Irma, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean, battered the Caribbean islands causing massive destruction. The scale of the impact is still being determined, though it is clear this is a natural catastrophe of historic proportions. "We ask the EU to immediately mobilise all necessary material and financial help to support victims of Hurricane Irma, which has devastated Saint-Martin/Sint-Maarten and Saint-Barthélemy in particular, and to support French and Dutch operations that are taking place there. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families and we will do everything we can to support the local population in the weeks and months ahead," said Manfred Weber MEP, Chairman of the EPP Group.
Leaders of the Dutch and French delegation in the EPP Group, Esther de Lange and Franck Proust, describe the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in the Caribbean: "There is a lack of water, food and medicines on Saint-Martin/Sint Maarten and Saint-Barthélemy and a total electricity blackout. Public order needs to be restored as quickly as possible to protect citizens from looters and to effectively provide immediate humanitarian support. We therefore call for the deployment of all emergency response instruments (including the European solidarity fund) which should provide for temporary accommodation and restoring crucial infrastructure like sea- and airports."
The EPP Group welcomes the Commission's engagement and the activation of all available humanitarian personnel who are already present in the area. "Considering the scale of the destruction, special attention should be given to those without any form of protection or shelter. The hurricane season is not over, and any other storm could cause many more victims on the islands concerned," concluded the Members.