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European Law Monitor newsPeru: European Commission reacts swiftly to earthquake

Following the earthquake that hit Peru causing more than 330 deaths, President J.M. Barroso wrote a letter to Alan Garcia, President of the Republic of Peru stating: "It is with great sadness that I learned about the tragic consequences of the earthquake that has struck your country and where so many people lost their lives. On behalf of the European Commission and on my own behalf, allow me to offer you and the population of the Republic of Peru our sincere condolences to the families of the victims and the expression of our deepest sympathy to all who have been injured."

The European Commission has moved quickly following the earthquake in Peru. A fast track 'primary emergency' decision for at least €1 million is being launched by its Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) for emergency relief operations by its partners (Red Cross, NGOs and UN agencies) in the stricken zone.

Commenting on the earthquake, Louis Michel, the Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid expressed sympathy with the victims. "We don't know the full scale of the tragedy yet, but we do know that a lot of people are suffering, and they need help as soon as possible. The Commission is providing a rapid first response and we will follow that up if required, when we learn more about the needs."

ECHO has been in close contact with operational partners throughout the day. Information from the stricken zone remains sketchy because of access problems, but the Commission has received unconfirmed reports that large areas of the town of Pisco (120,000 inhabitants) have been badly damaged and other population centres in the area have also been hit. The head of the ECHO office in Quito (Ecuador) is travelling to Peru and other rapid reaction staff have been put on stand-by.

Initial needs covered by fast-track funding following an earthquake generally include temporary shelters, medical assistance, food and hygiene kits and the establishment of emergency telecommunications facilities.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and responsible for the EU relations with Peru, said: "As a close partner of Peru, we stand ready to support the country at this difficult moment. We will remain in close contact with the authorities and will evaluate how best to assist the country's needs in the short, medium and long term."