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Wednesday, 10 February 2010 - Strasbourg
Recent earthquake in Haiti

European Parliament resolution of 10 February 2010 on the recent earthquake in Haiti

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the G7 summit in Iqaluit, Canada, on 6 February 2010,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the Ministerial Preparatory Conference in Montreal on 25 January 2010,

–   having regard to its debate of 20 January 2010 on the earthquake in Haiti, with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on 18 January 2010,

–   having regard to the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid,

–   having regard to the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH),

–   having regard to the proposal by Michel Barnier, of 9 May 2006, for a European civil protection force: "europe aid",

–   having regard to Rule 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale struck Haiti on 12 January 2010, causing catastrophic damage to Port-au-Prince, Jacmel and other settlements in the region, with numerous powerful aftershocks continued to affect the country,

B.   whereas it has been reported that there are up to 200 000 dead, 250 000 people wounded and more than 3 million people directly affected,

C.   whereas the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported that up to one million people are in need of shelter throughout the country and there are up to 600 000 internally displaced people,

D.   whereas the Haitian Government has estimated that 235 000 people have left Port-au-Prince and up to one million people could leave cities for the rural areas, putting pressure on already vulnerable communities there,

E.   whereas some 1.8 million people were "food insecure" prior to the earthquake, in a country where close to 60% of the population live in rural areas and 70% live on less than USD 2 a day,

F.   whereas decades of political instability had helped to weaken government institutions and the state's ability to provide basic public services prior to the earthquake, and whereas the damage caused by the earthquake has paralysed the state's ability to respond actively to the relief effort, thereby aggravating the situation,

G.   whereas the Commission has agreed to provide EUR 137 million for short-term needs and at least EUR 200 million for the medium and longer term, with Member States providing an additional EUR 92 million,

H.   whereas Haiti is crippled by foreign debt, estimated at approximately USD 1 billion, which was an obstacle to its development even before the earthquake and may hinder the country's recovery effort,

I.   whereas the immediate rebuilding of the Haitian capacity for a functioning democracy and government is an essential part of moving from providing the first phase of emergency aid towards the considerable task of rebuilding the nation,

1.  Expresses its sincere condolences to, and sympathy and solidarity with, the people of Haiti and of other nations, and to the staff of international organisations, including the UN and the Commission, for the massive loss of life and the devastation caused by the earthquake;

2.  Welcomes efforts by the Haitian authorities and civil society, as well as by the UN, NGOs and other bilateral donors, to bring aid to the people of Haiti and pays tribute to the work of relief organisations and individuals from across the Union;

3.  Calls for a comprehensive assessment to identify the population's short-term and long-term needs and establish the EU's involvement in the reconstruction process, covering the three phases of emergency aid, rehabilitation and reconstruction; asks the Commission to proceed as soon as possible to an evaluation of the European response to the humanitarian crisis in Haiti and present proposals with a view to further improving EU actions in respect of similar situations in the future;

4.  Urges that EU priority be given to assisting with the reconstruction efforts and improving the humanitarian situation, focusing on vulnerable groups, such as women and children, and on providing shelter, medical facilities, logistical assistance and food; calls on all Member States to be prepared to meet UN requests for further assistance;

5.  Expresses grave concern about the welfare of the vulnerable, particularly women; calls on the Commission and the UN to pay special attention to women's participation in reconstruction efforts by actively involving them in the rehabilitation, reconstruction and evaluation phases of all relief and rebuilding programmes;

6.  Stresses that unaccompanied and separated children should be provided with services aimed at reuniting them with their parents or customary care-givers as quickly as possible; calls on the EU and the international community urgently to assess the need for a coordinated plan to deal with the thousands of children left orphaned by the earthquake; highlights the grave risk of human trafficking incidents;

7.  Urges the EU to support a temporary moratorium on new adoptions of children from Haiti for up to two years after tracing efforts have begun; calls for EU efforts to provide children with their basic needs, to bring temporary schools into operation and to provide counselling to children as a matter of urgency;

8.  Welcomes the Commission's preliminary commitments to EUR 30 million in humanitarian assistance but expresses concern that the Haiti Flash Appeal launched by the OCHA for USD 575 million is 87% funded in terms of contributions; emphasises that such funding is crucial for sustaining operations in the long term; calls on the Commission and all Member States to fully honour the commitments they have made;

9.  Welcomes the decision by the G7 countries to cancel their claims on Haiti's international debt; expects all countries and international donors to do the same; also calls on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to provide full relief of the country's outstanding debt, including a USD 102 million emergency loan approved in January 2010; stresses that any emergency earthquake assistance must be provided in the form of grants, not debt-incurring loans;

10.  Reiterates the call by the UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs for vehicles to transport fuel; calls on Member States to provide additional assistance to transport supplies to makeshift camps, distribution points and outlying towns and villages;

11.  Underlines the importance of providing adequate security for aid distribution convoys in order to ensure that supplies are distributed in a fair and calm manner, particularly to the weak and those whose needs are greatest;

12.  Welcomes the decision of the Council to send 350 military police to support the aid effort in Haiti under UN command, and the decision to set up a coordination cell (EUCO Haiti) in Brussels to facilitate a proactive European response in the military and security domain as well as coordination of contributions by EU Member States to the relief effort;

13.  Calls on the UN to review MINUSTAH's mandate in conjunction with the Haitian authorities in order to respond to the country's post-disaster needs, with a particular focus on security issues;

14.  Underlines the importance of providing local authorities with appropriate aid to enable them to stimulate the economy as hundreds of thousands of people leave Port-au-Prince to settle in the countryside; calls on the EU and other international donors wherever possible to purchase locally produced food for the relief effort;

15.  Supports EU efforts to boost food production locally, rehabilitating damaged infrastructures and making the necessary material (seed, fertiliser and tools) available to agriculture smallholders – particularly for the spring planting season starting in March, which accounts for 60% of national food production;

16.  Asks the Commission to do all it can to support cash-for-work programmes, which are important for injecting cash into the community, and to assist with getting the banking system up and running;

17.  Emphasises the need for long-term investment in the construction of earthquake-resistant buildings and in basic infrastructure, such as water supply, roads and electricity, which was non-existent or largely inadequate prior to the earthquake, thus greatly exacerbating the potential impact of natural disasters;

18.  Calls for an international conference and a coordinated post-disaster needs assessment, involving the UN and the World Bank, in order to establish long-term reconstruction once the emergency operation is over;

19.  Calls on the international community to ensure that the people of Haiti and their government are the main actors in the reconstruction process, to allow them to take ownership of their collective future;

20.  Calls on the Commission to present to Parliament a comprehensive post-disaster needs assessment and a progress report on reconstruction;

21.  Urges the EU to work with the Haitian authorities to establish disaster prevention and capacity management for the long term, emphasising that reconstruction efforts must be based on national priorities, while respecting aid-effectiveness principles and supporting Haiti's institutions in order to enable them to govern effectively;

22.  Calls on the international community to keep Haiti high on the agenda, to use this as an opportunity to tackle the root causes of the underlying poverty in Haiti once and for all, and to assist Haiti in emerging from this disaster as a fully functioning democracy with an economy that can sustain its people;

23.  Recognises the work done by individual Member States of the European Union through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and the effective coordination of this assistance by the MIC (Monitoring and Information Centre) and ECHO teams which were deployed only hours after the earthquake;

24.  Notes that, for the first time, the Commission successfully deployed two modules made available through a preparatory action on an EU Rapid Response Capability established with Parliament's support;

25.  Calls on the Commission to bring proposals before it as soon as possible for establishing an EU Civil Protection Force based on the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and enabling the Union to bring together the resources necessary for providing initial emergency humanitarian aid within 24 hours of a disaster;

26.  Emphasises that a European rapid response mechanism should:

   be civilian and/or humanitarian
   exist on a permanent basis
   be capable of being mobilised at any time and as rapidly as possible
   operate under the banner of the EU
   observe international humanitarian law
   be open to cooperation with other bodies involved in humanitarian action
   be prepared to cooperate with the UN system
   be open to contributions from third countries
   respect the voluntary nature of the Member States" participation in the intended arrangements
   endeavour on an ongoing basis to keep up the standard of the human and material resources available for mobilisation at any time
   be based on the principle of burden sharing;

27.  Calls on the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response to play a leading role in coordinating the Union's crisis response, using the responsibilities created under the Lisbon Treaty to coordinate the Union's response to future crises more effectively, while building on what has already been achieved;

28.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the President of the Commission, the President and Government of Haiti, the UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief and the governments of the Member States.

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