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Tánaiste expresses solidarity with victims of Hurricane Sandy and announces emergency funding for Haiti and Cuba

Tánaiste and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore today announced €250,000 in funding to provide emergency assistance to families in Haiti and Cuba who have been left homeless by Hurricane Sandy. The Tánaiste expressed his sympathy to the families of all those affected by the storm in the United States and the Caribbean.

Commenting on the crisis today, the Tánaiste said:

“We have all been shocked and saddened by the devastation and loss of life caused by Hurricane Sandy in New York, along the eastern seaboard of the United States and across the Caribbean. On behalf of the Irish people, I would like to express my sincere sympathies to those who have lost loved ones, their homes and their livelihoods.

The Government is deeply conscious that thousands of Irish people and many Irish communities living in these areas have been affected by the disaster. I have asked our Ambassador in Washington and our Consul General in New York to liaise closely with these communities to ensure they receive whatever assistance may be possible”.

The Tánaiste also announced an immediate allocation of €250,000 in emergency funding for the provision of essential shelter and clean water to thousands of families affected by the hurricane in Cuba and Haiti, the two Caribbean countries most severely affected.

The Tánaiste said:

“Hurricane Sandy left a devastating trail of destruction as it moved across the Caribbean. Communities in Haiti and Cuba, who were already vulnerable as a result of poverty and repeated natural disasters, have been the hardest hit.

In Haiti, where at least 54 people were killed and tens of thousands left homeless, the Government is providing €100,000 to Plan Ireland for essential relief items including clothes and basic shelters to 2,500 families. This brings Ireland’s total assistance to Haiti, one of the world’s poorest countries, to over €1 million this year.

In Cuba, at least 75,000 people have been forced to leave their homes. Ireland will provide €150,000 through the International Federation of the Red Cross to provide shelter, bedding and safe water to almost 20,000 homeless families.”

The Tánaiste also announced that he has put members of Ireland’s Rapid Response Corps on standby to assist in the relief effort.

Press Office

31 October, 2012

Notes to the Editor:

· Irish Aid is the Government’s programme of overseas assistance. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

· Ireland’s contribution to Plan Ireland will also provide seeds and tools to assist families in Haiti to regain their livelihoods in the wake of the disaster.

· In Cuba, Ireland’s funding to the International Federation of the Red Cross will contribute to the provision of shelter to 15,000 families, the provision of mosquito nets and bedding to 2,000 families, and safe water to 2,000 families in the worst affected areas.

· Since the devastating 2010 earthquake, which killed more than 230,000 people and left approximately 1.5 million people homeless, Ireland has allocated €13.6 million in funding to Haiti.

· In addition, 170 tonnes of emergency relief supplies have been airlifted to Haiti and there have been 18 deployments of Rapid Response Corps members to assist in areas such as logistics, engineering and water and sanitation.

· Irish Aid’s Rapid Response Corps is a register of highly-skilled individuals who are willing to be deployed at short notice to assist in an emergency relief effort.