Cuba

European Commission announces further 7.5 million euros in post-hurricane assistance to Cuba on eve of first joint co-operation conference

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IP/09/416

Brussels, 18 March 2009 - European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, has today announced an additional 7.5 million euros in hurricane response assistance to Cuba. The announcement in Havana comes at the start of his two day visit to Cuba during which he will jointly open a joint conference on co-operation between the European Commission and Cuba.

Commissioner Michel will also hold a number of bilateral meetings including with Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez and Minister for Foreign Investment, Trade and Co-operation Rodrigo Malmierca.

The hurricane response funds will be provided under the European Commission's 'Instrument for Stability' (IfS) which is a programme that allows for financial assistance to be provided for non-humanitarian responses to crises or natural disasters. This funding is the Commission's interim response to hurricane Gustav, Ike and Paloma, ensuring a linkage between the 4 million euros of humanitarian assistance already provided and the up-coming development programmes which will focusing especially on food security. The 'IfS' programme will focus entirely on reviving agricultural production damaged or destroyed by the hurricanes in six of the worst affected provinces of Cuba.

Commissioner Michel stated, "I am delighted to be back in Havana and able to build upon the positive dynamic in relations between the EU and Cuba. I'm especially proud to be able to open jointly tomorrow the Cuba-European Commission conference on co-operation which is an event that brings together dozens of experts from across the European Commission to work directly with their Cuban counterparts. When I was here a year ago, our aim was to improve our dialogue and find areas for potential co-operation. Today, we can point together at this conference as a tangible sign that this is happening. "

The conference, which beings together experts and representatives from the EC, the Cuban authorities, EU Member States in Havana, European and local NGOs as well as UN agencies, will discuss issues such as Food Security; Research and Development; Economic Co-operation and Trade; Environment; Renewables and Climate Change; Disaster Risk Reduction.

Background:

EC Humanitarian (ECHO) Assistance to Cuba in 2008+2009 = 4 million euros total

- 14/10/2008: 2 million euros: The regional Emergency Decision was adopted 14.10.08, and was launched in response to Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike. Gustav and Ike caused major damage in Cuba. Projects have a six-month timeframe, and focus on emergency rehabilitation of shelter and health care structures, distribution of non-food items, and basic agricultural recovery. Estimated number of beneficiaries: 56,000.

- 21/01/2009: 2 million euros: The Ad Hoc Decision was adopted 21.01.09, and was launched in response to Hurricanes Gustav, Ike and Paloma. Projects have a six-month time-frame, and focus on emergency rehabilitation of shelter, with a strong component of Disaster Risk Reduction. Estimated number of beneficiaries: 30,000