The European Commission is providing emergency assistance to the people of Madagascar after powerful cyclone Batsirai made landfall over the central-eastern coast of the island on 5 February 2022.
An initial team of 5 EU Civil Protection experts from France, Finland and Sweden, 1 Liaison Officer from the Commission, is currently being put together to travel to the affected areas this week. Trained in coordinating emergencies, team members bring strong expertise notably in humanitarian logistics, water and sanitation, and health. The EU team will assess the magnitude and severity of immediate needs and key operational challenges to guide EU's emergency response. Given limited travel options with commercial airlines the EU is ensuring a timely arrival via an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flight. The first flight is expected to arrive in Madagascar on 9 February 2022. An EU regional rapid response coordinator has also been deployed to Madagascar, to help assess immediate needs and challenges.
In addition, France and Germany have offered emergency assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism following a request for assistance by the Malagasy authorities. The assistance consists of two water purification modules in line with the request for assistance formulated by the Malagasy Authorities. The EU's emergency satellite Copernicus is supporting emergency responders on the ground with detailed space images of the extent of damage in the affected regions.
“The EU is acting fast to ensure the timely arrival of EU humanitarian staff and essential technical assistance following cyclone Batsirai has caused deplorable loss of lives and hardship to the people of Madagascar. I am very thankful to all the EU Member States that have offered their support. Our thoughts are with all those affected and with the brave first responders on the scene who are risking their lives to reach those in need. We stand ready to provide further assistance”, said Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič.
The storm brought torrential rainfall, strong winds, landslides and storm surges to the areas lying in the cyclone's path on the Indian Ocean island, causing people to be evacuated from their homes due to flash floods, as well as damage to infrastructure and crops. Following first reports, cyclone Batsirai lead to 10 fatalities, affected up to 250,000 people and is anticipated to have a high humanitarian impact on vulnerable populations. At the time cyclone Batsirai made landfall late Saturday evening, the population of the large Indian Ocean island was still recovering from the deadly tropical storm Ana in late January.
The European Commission plays a key role in coordinating the disaster response worldwide, contributing to at least 75% of the transport and/or operational costs of deployments. When an emergency overwhelms the response capabilities of a country, it can request assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Through its European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the European Union helps millions of victims of conflicts and disasters every year.
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