Sumario: January 6, 2005: EU Commission President Barroso on Tsunami disaster: European aid will be around 1.5 billion euros - Jakarta
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Speaking at the "Special ASEAN Leaders' Meeting on the Aftermath of Earthquake and Tsunami" in Jakarta today, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, announced an additional package of up to € 450 million in humanitarian and reconstruction aid to help in the relief efforts following the Asian Tsunami disaster. This will bring the total support from the European Union (25 EU Member States + European Commission) around € 1,5 billion, or US$ 2 billion. In addition, the President announced a proposal for a € 1 billion (US$ 1.3 billion) "Indian Ocean Tsunami Lending Facility", to be managed by the European Investment Bank. President Barroso stated: "The people of Europe stand with the people of Asia in this great tragedy. We mourn for the dead. I would also like to state our firm commitment to support you in this hour of need. We will do everything in our power to help you in your efforts to put this tragedy behind us."
The additional €450 million (US$ 585 million) pledge by the European Commission comprises up to a further €100 million (US$ 130 million) in humanitarian aid to assist in the immediate short term and to respond to the needs identified as well as to the UN and Red Cross appeals. The remaining sum of up to €350 million (US$ 455 million) will serve longer term reconstruction needs to repair the infrastructure destroyed and to restart the livelihoods of Asia's shattered coastal communities. "The European Parliament and EU Member States must still give a final approval to these proposals. I am encouraged by the firm initial political support EP President Josep Borrel has already conveyed to me", he said. The President indicated that he would review these figures once final reconstruction needs' assessments are known in March.
The generous contributions by individual European Union Member States have to be added to the total € 450 million humanitarian and reconstruction to be delivered through the European Commission. This brings the European Union's overall official contribution to over € 1,5 billion, or close to 2 billion US dollars. This sum does not contain the massive private donations from EU citizens or companies.
The European Commission has already committed € 23 million (US$ 30 million) in humanitarian aid. This money is already being spent on the ground. It made its first commitment on the very same day that the tsunami struck.
President Barroso further emphasised that there must be a seamless transition from the current humanitarian support to the second longer term phase of rehabilitation and reconstruction. "While final reconstruction costs will only be known when the needs assessments currently underway are finalised in March, it is clear that the bill will be huge and the task will span several years", he concluded.