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St. Lucia to Benefit from European Disaster Fund

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Contact: John Emmanuel

Thursday, August 21, 2003 - St. Lucia in one of half a dozen Caribbean states in line to benefit from funding following the latest mission to select regional states by Co-ordinator of the Dominican Republic based Humanitarian Aid Office of the European Commission (ECHO).

Mr. Stéphane Quinton’s fact finding mission began here on Wednesday, August 20th, 2003 and will end on the 24th of August, 2003. While on island, he will work closely with the Saint Lucia Red Cross on the exercise, which has been organized by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and will discuss funding for Disaster Management Projects for the Region.

In April 2003 The European Commission announced that it had approved a €2.5 million Action Plan to help vulnerable groups in the Caribbean prepare for and respond to natural disasters.

Funds would be allocated to international agencies, such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, operating in the region, via the European Commission's Humanitarian Office, ECHO. The present funding will focus on Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines and will fund early warning equipment, disaster preparedness training, small scale mitigation actions, and will also help develop emergency response mechanisms.

The programme’s principal objective is to reduce the impact of natural disasters by strengthening local physical and human resources in high-risk areas. The Caribbean region is particularly vulnerable to a wide range of natural disasters, including hurricanes, volcanic activity and earthquakes.

Since 1998 the European Commission Humanitarian Office has provided some €6.8 million to the Caribbean through its disaster preparedness programme.

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