News BlogHumanitarian aidAmericasCivil protection

Earthquake in Haiti: European aid is coordinated (Update n°4)

(BRUXELLES2 / updated Saturday January 16, 14 p.m.) Faced with the earthquake (magnitude 7.0) that hit Haiti on Tuesday late afternoon, the European Commission launched its two main aid instruments: money, men and the material.

The coordination. Rescue teams, water purification, advanced medical posts and field hospitals are sent as civil security. A detailed census was carried out by the "Civil Security" unit of the European Commission, download here the latest updated status).

A team of seven European experts (6 from the Member States - French, Italian, Estonian, British - and a liaison officer from the Commission) set off in a Belgian army plane to coordinate the European aid sent under civil security.

On balance: a not insignificant but dispersed effort

Overall, according to my compilations, the effort (military and civil security) of the Member States of the EU is not negligible. Unfortunately it is dispersed. And this data is not compiled by the EU at all. This leaves an impression of weakness. Especially compared to the intense and visible American effort. Here is a global overview of the European effort (EU + 27 Member States):
The Batral François Garnier sails from the West Indies with equipment and ambulances on board (credit: French Defense / Dicod)

- 4 frigates : 2 French, one part of the West Indies, the other from the African coast, 1 Dutch (part of Curacao), 1 Spanish (in reserve in Latin America).
- 21 aircraft rotations to bring humanitarian aid and/or rescue teams: 7 Spaniards (military Boeing 707), 7 French (Casa, Airbus A330, C-130 + 1 chartered from a private company), 2 Italians (C- 130), 1 Polish (presidential aircraft), 1 Dutch KDC-10 (over Curacao), 1 Portuguese (C-130), 1 Swedish (C-130), 1 British (Boeing from British Airways) + 1 Icelander.

- 4 planes are used for the evacuation of European nationals: 1 French Casa, 1 Belgian Airbus, 1 Portuguese C-130, 1 Icelandic (*).

- More than 800 men (doctors, nurses, firefighters, civil security, military, police) and at least 40 dogs searchers specially trained to search in rubble.

Details of the teams and means sent - provisional inventory -

• The Belgium sent, on Wednesday 13, its B-Fast team (rapid intervention in the event of disaster), composed of about sixty people = a medical intervention team with a field hospital (20 people), a USAR team (Urban Search and Rescue Team) of 33 people, with four tracking dogs, a drinking water purification installation, with two attendants. Personnel and equipment will be transferred by an Airbus A330 from the Belgian Air Force.

• The Luxembourg sent a search team from the canine sections of the Luxembourg Red Cross and Civil Protection with 7 dogs, personnel and equipment for localization.

The Luxembourg rescue team before departure (Ministry of Foreign Affairs LUX /

• The France sends nearly 400 people - including 130 civil security and firefighter rescuers and 6 dogs specialized in searching the rubble, doctors and 12 gendarmes. A field hospital leaves Thursday with the Escrim (Element of civil security
rapid medical intervention).

Loading a Casa in Martinique (credit: French Army / Dicod)

- Aviation. Three Casa military transport planes left the island of Martinique on Wednesday (with 25 civil security rescuers, 18 gendarmes, 1 dog and more than 3 tons of freight). On the return trip, they repatriate about 91 French people who were in Haiti. Added to this: a military Airbus A310-300 from the Esterel transport squadron (which could not land in Haiti), and a Hercules C-130 transport plane.
- The navy sends 2 ships: the Francis Garnier, from Martinique, with earthmoving and clearing equipment = 3 backhoe loaders and 2 mini diggers, transport vehicles (maintenance truck, 2 P4s, a 4X4), a medical team and an ambulance, 700 tents and freight for the benefit of the Red Cross, according to the General Staff of the armies. The BPC Sirocco, which departs from the West African coast, has two surgical blocks and 50 beds to accommodate the wounded as well as 4 helicopters (2 Puma, 2 Gazelle).

L'Italy send a advanced medical post (PMA) with operating room as well as an urban rescue and research team (20 doctors, 2 firefighters, 12 coordination teams), a project within the framework of a European program intended to boost civil protection capacities. This would be the first time that the "PISARTE" (Pisa Emergency Response Team) would be deployed and the modules tested in situ. 2 planes are mobilized including a C-130 from the air force.

• L'Spain sent 7 planes loaded with humanitarian and medical aid to Haiti. 2 from Panama (where she has an emergency stock), 3 from Spain. A sixth flight left with a team of rescuers: 
an emergency military unit rescue team (composed of 40 members) with search dogs and doctors leaves from the base of Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid). The EMU consists of two teams of rescue specialists, each made up of nine military medical groups (with a doctor, a nurse and two paramedics), a broadcasting team (a chief and five signal operators) and a logistics team composed of four members. Le seventh flight is bound for Santo Domingo, loaded with medical supplies for hospitals and health centers (a neighbor of Haiti, this state is primarily affected by the "rush" of injured Haitians).

EMU men board the Spanish Armed Forces Boeing (Credit: MDE)

• L'Germany send a team with 4 experts and a water purification module (with a capacity of 2 X 120.000 li / day) (departure: January 15).

• The Finland sends a light base camp (with 4 men) and a telecom module (with 2 experts)

• L'Iceland (*) sent a rescue team of 37 people. On the way back, the plane brought back European nationals (departure: January 13).

• The Norway (*) sends a field hospital through the Red Cross (departure: January 14).

• The Netherlands send a search and rescue team (63 people + 8 dogs). A KDC 10 aircraft from the Eindhoven-based 334th Air Squadron has arrived in Curacao. He could not land in Port de Prince. Some of the material was transferred to small planes. And the rest will be transported by sea. A support ship, the Hs Ms Pelikan leaves Curacao (Netherlands Antilles) with 77 men on board (
44 Aruba Marines, 7 Aruba Militia, 24 Sailors and 2 Marechaussee) and heavy equipment. Arrival: Monday.

Pelikan departing from Curacao (credit: NL defensie)

• The Poland sends a USAR urban search team of 63 men and 12 dogs, as well as 4 tons of equipment (departure: January 15)

• The Portugal sends a base camp for 400 people and the necessary support staff (10 people), a medical team (8 people), a search and identification team (DVI), a coordination team.

• The United Kingdom sent a search and rescue team (64 people) with search dogs and equipment (departure: 14 January).

• The Slovakia sends a rescue team (4 rescuers, 4 paramedics, 4 dogs), tents, blankets, sleeping bags and camp beds

La Sweden offered an advanced medical post, tents, water purification equipment and a technical assistance and support team. A 200-seat base camp will be reconstructed for the UN forces (whose building collapsed). A C-130 departs from the base in Örebro. Sweden has also indicated that it could use C-17s (from NATO's strategic fleet - SAC). Government statement (Swedish).

• The Czech Republic could send rescue teams accompanied by dogs

(*) Although not part of the EU, this country participates in the Civil Protection Mechanism

To be continued...


The usefulness of the military in this deployment. This mobilization demonstrates that the humanitarian-military distinction, which sometimes matters in troubled terrain, has no reason to exist. Faced with a major disaster, only the combination of governmental and non-governmental civilian and military resources can quickly achieve an adequate level of relief. It is also important to note that only military means - transport planes capable of landing on makeshift terrain, helicopters, field hospital ships - find here all their justification.

Americans as leaders. However, Europe seems a little weak compared to the Americans who send massive amounts of equipment and men. 300 medics have left, several MC-130H Combat Talons and C-130E Hercules transport planes from the 1st Special Operations Wing are on site. 2.000 men from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Force are expected as well as 3.500 men from the 82nd Airborne Division (100 arrived Thursday, 800 others follow Friday), 12.00 men are placed on alert. The US Navy sends an aircraft carrier (USS Carl Vinson), a hospital ship (USNS Comfort) and 3 amphibious ships, i.e. 2000 men, Etc...

US Coast Guard helicopters were the first on the scene to repatriate the injured (credit: Us Navy)

But where are the EU battlegroups? Honestly, it would be a typical battle group intervention situation: protection of certain risky installations, evacuation of European nationals, care, deployment of a care unit, transport and interventions in delicate areas... Simply: this guy there intervention was not planned. So I would say: a little flexibility and audacity, damn it! It is in exceptional situations that we recognize men and women of action, not in concepts designed in closed rooms. Moreover, one day, we will have to dare to review this concept of battlegroup which seems to me, personally, a little outdated and not modular enough.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

3 thoughts on “Earthquake in Haiti: European aid is coordinated (Update n°4)"

  • Drama in Haiti: which organization will you make (or have you already made) an emergency DONATION?

    The help of everyone, according to their means, is essential!

    found on Pnyx a very detailed technical sheet of the 8 main organizations that have launched an emergency donation appeal for Haiti: details of their presence on site, their contact details for donations, by mail or by credit card, links, telephone contacts , email, etc.

  • The easiest way is to donate directly to the Red Cross.

Comments closed.