Brussels, 15 October 2001
The European Commission has moved quickly in response to Hurricane Iris, a small but powerful category 4 hurricane which struck southern Belize on 9 October 2001. Channelled through the Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) which comes under the responsibility of Commissioner Poul Nielson, the €500,000 will help meet the urgent needs of the victims. So far, it is estimated that between 8,000 and 10,000 Belizeans are homeless, many of whom still remain isolated, without shelter, food and access to basic medicine and drinking water.
In the first instance, this decision, taken under the primary emergency aid procedure, will be used to bring drinking water, food, shelter and fuel to the most vulnerable people. This may be followed up by further decisions, depending on the scale of needs identified and once a more full assessment has been undertaken. It is envisaged that humanitarian operations will be implemented through PAHO/WHO and IFRC among others.