The European Commission allocated €160 000 to strengthen the response capacities of the Colombian Red Cross in the region of the Ituango dam in Bajo Cauca, Colombia after flooding forced many to evacuate.
The European Union funds will facilitate the evacuation of around 800 families located in at-risk areas to safer locations. The funds will also provide for the delivery of health, sanitation and hygiene equipment, and shelters.
The actions, undertaken by the Colombian Red Cross, will last three months and will be coordinated with the Colombian National Risk Management Unit and local authorities.
The financial aid is part of the European Commission's overall contribution to the emergency relief fund for disaster relief (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
On 18 May 2018, the UN Environment/OCHA joint unit requested the activation of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism for the deployment of two dam integrity experts in order to help the Colombian government tackle the emergency. Through the mechanism, two experts from France were selected and deployed to Colombia on 21 May.
Since April 28, heavy rains that have affected the Bajo Cauca basin in the department of Antioquia have caused landslides and flooding near the Ituango dam, currently under construction. As of May 22, more than 25 000 people had been evacuated in 4 municipalities and another 100 000 were still at risk.
The European Commission has signed a €3 million humanitarian contribution agreement with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). Funds from the DREF are mainly allocated to “small-scale” disasters – those that do not give rise to a formal international appeal.
The Disaster Relief Emergency Fund was established in 1985 and is supported by contributions from donors. Each time a National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society needs immediate financial support to respond to a disaster, it can request funds from the DREF. For small-scale disasters, the IFRC allocates grants from the DREF. The contribution agreement between the IFRC and the European Commission's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations enables the latter to replenish the DREF for agreed operations (that fit in with its humanitarian mandate) up to a total of €3 million.