Official speeches and statements - September 11, 2017
2. Hurricane Irma - St. Martin - Cooperation with the Netherlands - Statement by the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs spokeswoman (Paris, September 8, 2017)
At a time when hurricane Irma has ravaged several Caribbean islands and is now approaching the coast of Florida, I would like to express my wholehearted solidarity with all those who are being affected by this tragedy. I am keeping up to date with the changing situation in real time, together with the crisis and support center and our diplomatic and consular posts in the region.
At my request, the Ministry’s services were mobilized as soon as Hurricane Irma hit.
The crisis and support center in Paris and our diplomatic and consular network in the region immediately adapted their operations to respond to the state of the threat: updating travel advice, sending safety messages to French citizens resident in the area or those passing through the area who are subscribed to the Ariane service, remaining in permanent contact with local authorities and working closely with the air transport and tourism industries. All our posts in the area have activated crisis response units and organized telephone response units to respond to our fellow citizens. We ask them to strictly follow local authority instructions.
As regards St Martin, we are working in close cooperation with the Dutch authorities. I am in close contact with my Dutch counterpart to coordinate the emergency response of our two countries.
In light of the exceptional level of destruction on our overseas collectivity of St Martin, I have also asked the crisis and support center to participate in the interministerial crisis-management response implemented by the Prime Minister. An «Antilles» support center has therefore been created at the Quai d’Orsay ministry building mobilizing teams from the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health together with volunteers from the Red Cross. The center is at the disposal of our fellow citizens and foreign embassies aware of missing individuals and aims to answer victims’ questions on assistance as well as calls from families searching for loved-ones.
The diplomatic and consular network is working particularly hard in the United States where we have a significant French community. We are at their side during this difficult time.
Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian met his Dutch counterpart, Bert Koenders, in Tallinn yesterday to discuss the situation in St Martin following the passage of Hurricane Irma. They reviewed our countries’ cooperative effort to provide assistance to the people of St Martin.
France and the Netherlands are fully mobilizing their efforts to assess the scope of the damage, re-establish connections with the island, and meet the human and material needs of our compatriots following this devastating hurricane. Interministerial crisis units, which have been meeting in Paris and The Hague over the past two days, are working together to respond immediately to this situation. Teams on the ground and their reinforcements are coordinating and mutually supporting one another. The deep friendship between our two countries is helping us face the situation together, and we will do everything necessary to continue our close cooperation and fully rebuild St Martin.