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Thursday, 18 April 2013

Madagascar: EU activates Civil Protection Mechanism

The passage of the tropical cyclone Haruna in February 2013, which affected over 40,000 people in Madagascar, has again highlighted the dangers of chemical and industrial accidents and spills following natural disasters.
On 27 March, the European Commission Monitoring and Information Centre received an official request for assistance from the joint UNEP/OCHA Environmental Emergencies Section (a collaborative arrangement between the United Nations Environment Programme and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) working with the Government of Madagascar and immediately activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
In response to the request for additional expertise to join a scoping mission to the cyclone-hit country, three experts were nominated by the Participating States. The selected French EU civil protection expert joined the UNEP/OCHA mission that departed 6 April and spent five days in the field.
The team has assessed the overall situation including environmental, institutional, legal and capacity implications and will be helping the government of Madagascar to develop a prevention programme and response plan for chemical and industrial accidents.
The European Commission Monitoring and Information Centre has also activated the Copernicus/GMES Emergency Mapping Service to support this mission with satellite images.
This active assistance will contribute to avoiding major chemical and industrial disasters in the future.
Madagascar, the world’s fourth biggest island, is prone to cyclones and tropical storms, particularly during the rainy season between January and April. This year saw the strongest tropical cyclone so far, Haruna, hit the south-west coast of the island in February.
The European Commission allocated €200 000 on Humanitarian Aid to provide the most vulnerable with life-saving assistance such as water, hygiene and sanitation facilities, and shelter working through its humanitarian partners on the ground.
On 20 February 2013, the government of Madagascar issued a request for assistance to the UN for a scoping mission to assess the imminent threats, possible responses, preparedness and prevention measures, focusing on possible secondary hazards and impacts of natural disasters on its industry.
The European Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates cooperation in disaster response among 32 European states (EU-27 plus Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Norway). The participating countries pool the resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world. When activated, the Mechanism coordinates the provision of assistance inside and outside the European Union. The European Commission manages the Mechanism through the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC).

Source: European Commission