EU ready to help victims of Hurricane Katrina

Twelve member states of the European Union (EU) have started or pledged to send assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina, European Commission (EC) announced here on Monday.

Eight EU members have already made specific offers and some have started to transport relief goods via aircraft, while four member states "are assessing what they can make available," said Barbara Helfferich, an EC spokeswoman.

Romania, a would-be EU member state, has also vowed to offer help.

"The US has this morning made an official request for emergency assistance to the EC Delegation in Washington and the Presidency through the US Federal Emergency Management Agency," said a press release issued by the EC.

This request came after several days of informal contacts and preparatory activities between the United States, the EC Delegation in Washington and the UK Presidency.

According to the EU executive, the initial needs identified include first aid kits, blankets, water trucks and 500,000 prepared meals. Additional needs are being identified and will be communicated to the EU in due course.

"We are and have been ready to contribute to the US efforts aimed at alleviating the humanitarian crisis in New Orleans. Having received an official request by the US this morning, the European Community Mechanism for Civil Protection is ready to coordinate emergency assistance by different Member States to the area of New Orleans," EU Commissioner Stavros Dimas was quoted as saying.

However, the spokeswoman said no assistance would come from the EU budget and the EC was playing the role of "coordination."

Source: Xinhua

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