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EU Plans to Send Soldiers to Haiti for Shelters Construction

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President of the European Council Van Rompuy said on Thursday that the European Union (EU) plans to deploy military personnel to earthquake-hit Haiti for shelters construction in response to a request by the United Nations.

The launch of work on the EU military mission was released earlier by the bloc's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton during an informal meeting of EU heads of state or government, held here on Thursday.

"Shelter is now the most burning need. The priority remains to save lives and help the Haitian people to cope with this terrible disaster. The emergency phase is not yet over," Ashton said.

It is believed that over 100,000 people are in emergent need of shelters in Haiti.

In response to a specific request from the United Nations for additional logistical and security support, the EU had agreed to provide a European contingent of at least 300 military police personnel that will temporarily reinforce the police capability of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, including staff who will be seconded by EU member states that are part of the European Gendarmerie Force.

After the Haiti earthquake occurred on Jan. 12, the EU immediately provided massive emergency assistance. Over 900 civil protection experts and substantial assets have been deployed to extract survivors from the rubble and to assist the Haitian population.

The EU humanitarian aid to Haiti, including planned pledges, to date amounts to a total of 212 million euros, according to a press release published during the informal meeting.

The EU is preparing an EU-wide response in order to address the rehabitation and development needs in the longer term. According to the release, this response will make full use of all resources, expertise and funding available from the EU, and it should also integrate contributions by partner countries and take into account the efforts of the international community.

A coordination cell has also been set up in Brussels to coordination military and security assistance by member states, whose task is to match contributions with the needs identified by the UN and to maximize the speed and efficiency of the EU's response.

At its meeting on Feb. 22, the Foreign Affairs Council will review the situation and the EU response, said the release.

(Xinhua News Agency February 12, 2010)

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