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European Commission provides humanitarian aid worth €700,000 in Pacific island countries

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Brussels, 9 March 2009 - The Commission has taken a humanitarian decision for €700,000 to provide assistance to communities affected by floods in Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. More than 50,000 people will benefit from this decision. There will be a particular focus on actions to treat and prevent the spread of waterborne diseases. The funds are managed by the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department under the responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel.

Beginning in early December 2008, a combination of exceptionally high tides and tropical depressions led to serious coastal flooding in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Latest reports are that an estimated 40,000 people are affected. A few weeks later, prolonged heavy rainfall brought flooding to Fiji where 11 people died and 10,000 were displaced. A high risk of outbreak of diseases such as dengue, typhoid and leptostripirosis was identified. At the end of January, heavy floods struck the Solomon Islands, especially the islands of Guadalcanal and Savo, resulting in 10 deaths and causing substantial damage in a number of villages. Up to 40,000 people living in the worst-affected areas require assistance.

A Commission humanitarian expert has visited the region and the most urgent needs have been identified. The main components covered by the decision will be:

- provision of clean drinking water, containers, tanks, filters and purification tablets;

- rehabilitation of water and sewerage systems;

- hygiene interventions;

- supply of blankets, clothing, mosquito nets and plastic sheeting for temporary shelters.

- health actions designed to treat and prevent outbreaks of diarrhoea, respiratory infection, malaria and dengue fever.