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 whole-hearted solidarity with those who have been affected by this tragedy. I am keeping up to date with the changing situation in real time, together with the Crisis and Support Centre and our diplomatic and consular posts in the region.
Upon my request, the ministry services were mobilized as soon as hurricane Irma hit.
The Crisis and Support Centre 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 transportation and tourism industries. All our posts in the area have activated crisis response centres and have organised telephone response units in order to respond to our fellow citizens. We ask them to strictly follow local authority instructions.
As regards Saint 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 Saint Martin, I have also asked the Crisis and Support Centre to participate in the inter-ministerial crisis management response implemented by the Prime Minister. An “Antilles” support centre 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 for Health together with volunteers from the Red Cross. The centre 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.