The European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, has been touring parts of Sri Lanka to see first-hand the devastation wrought by last week’s tsunami. His impression was that the redevelopment of the region would take “years rather than months”. He said the European Union was committed for the long term.Joining the international relief effort, Korean rescue workers were spraying beaches and piles of debris with chemical smoke, against mosquitoes. The EU and its 25 Member States together have put some 240 million euros towards helping the stricken countries. Michel, due to travel on to Indonesia, said that amount could increase. Almost all the EU countries have also offered civil protection assistance to the affected areas. The Monitoring and Information Centre in Brussels is working closely with local authorities and the UN. Pia Bucella is one of the key organisers: “What we are doing is to try to make the best use of the best assistance provided by the Member States. So, whenever we know that French team could best help or the Swedish team could best help in a certain situation, we would have asked them to be ready to go and do it.” Hundreds of specialised personnel have been sent to the region, with sanitation and medical equipment, tents, bottled water and transport aircraft. This Wednesday, three minutes’ silence will be observed throughout the EU at noon CET, in a symbolic gesture of solidarity with the tsunami victims.
Belgian member of EU Commission, 1st donor on day of disaster, visits tsunami zone