Government announces support for the relief effort in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern TD and the Minister of State for Development Cooperation and Human Rights, Mr Conor Lenihan TD, today announced initial assistance amounting to €1 million for the region affected by Hurricane Katrina.
The assistance will be directed to those most in need via the Red Cross, civil society and community based organisations. The Government is also responding positively to a request for assistance from the United States via the European Union.
Minister Ahern stated
“The destructive power of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding and damage to New Orleans and other areas have had catastrophic effects on the lives and property of many thousands of communities, families and individuals. The pictures on our TV screens have clearly outlined the scale of suffering and damage.
The US Government is mounting a huge operation to bring assistance to those most in need. Tens of thousands have been evacuated from the stricken areas. Clearly it will not be possible for many people to return to their homes for some considerable time. Many have lost everything.
The EU has offered to assist the United States with any support that might be required as a result of this disaster. I strongly urged this course of action at the informal meeting of Foreign Ministers in Wales last week.
On a bilateral basis, Ireland has a unique relationship with the people of the United States and it is now appropriate that we show solidarity with them in their time of need. Our Ambassador in Washington is in active contact with the American authorities as they assess and prioritise needs.
At the level of material and personnel, we are also actively assisting as part of a coordinated EU response via the civil protection mechanism.
We are likewise doing everything possible to help and support Irish citizens caught up in the aftermath of the disaster, and are pleased that the numbers of concern to us have been significantly reduced. But we remain concerned about a number of Irish persons and are very actively pursuing their cases. Officials are in the region working closely with the emergency services, and will stay as long as required.”
Minister of State Lenihan added
“We have been in regular contact with the Irish Red Cross. The organisation is in close communication with colleagues in the American Red Cross. I have asked them to keep me informed of humanitarian developments in the affected region and we will direct part of our assistance through this important and effective humanitarian organisation.
As the affected areas begin to move towards recovery communities will need assistance to re-establish themselves. The Red Cross, NGOs and civil society organisations are well placed to assist in these efforts. Through our close relationship with the Irish-American community via our Embassy in Washington, and our Consulates, opportunities will also present themselves for some very focussed community based assistance in assisting the recovery efforts over the coming months.”
5 September 2005