Situation on 11/9 after Hurricane Irma’s transit - Belgium releases humanitarian aid

Hurricane Irma transited Cuba and Florida yesterday. Deputy Prime Ministers Didier Reynders and Alexander De Croo sympathise with the stricken populations in the region and present their condolences to the victims’ families.

At the moment, there are no indications of Belgians among the victims. Under difficult circumstances, our Embassy in Havana and the Belgian Consulate General in Atlanta continue to closely follow up with and assist our compatriots.

On some islands, the hurricane has wrought very serious damage. Therefore, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo has decided to release 1 million euros in humanitarian aid for the reconstruction of the worst-affected islands. Besides, Belgium contributes more than 53 million euros to flexible UN funds and the International Red Cross. These funds can be deployed in case of humanitarian emergency situations such as Hurricane Irma.

The Belgian Red Cross has already announced the release of funds for Antigua and Barbuda through the International Red Cross’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, to which Belgium contributes 600.000 euros. Thanks to the Belgian support, humanitarian organisations can quickly deploy flexible means to deal with disasters such as Hurricane Irma.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders confirms that currently 14 Belgians still want to leave the affected islands. On some islands, such as Saint Barthélemy, commercial airports have reopened. The security situation on some islands has also improved thanks to our partner countries’ troops and aid workers. We remain in contact with our stranded compatriots, as well as with France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Through cooperation with these countries, we have been able to communicate useful information to our stranded compatriots about local assembly points and contacts for assistance. Our partner countries also have all details of the stranded Belgians at their disposal.

Over the past days, one B-FAST expert was deployed to the UNDAC (United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination) coordination centre in Haiti. This expert will further be deployed to Sint Maarten in order to assist the Dutch aid operations.

Besides, Belgium has offered humanitarian aid materials to the Netherlands and France for the Lesser Antilles. The Netherlands are studying the Belgian offer. France did not wish to make use of the Belgian offer.