MEDIA ADVISORY ON THE MATANZAS FIRE DISASTER IN CUBA

The EU Commission has today, at the request of the government of Cuba, initiated its Civil Protection assistance mechanism in relation to the recent catastrophic fire at the Matanzas oil terminal in Cuba. The fire started as a result of a lightning strike and burned for several days before coming under the control of the Cuban fire services supported by specialist crews from Mexico and Venezuela. 


Member states of the EU will now be facilitated by the Commission to provide direct assistance to the Cuban authorities to help them cope with the aftermath of the disaster and ensure the emergency protection of civilians. 


Cuba has issued a list of emergency medical items it needs to mitigate the impact of the disaster. Many of the medicines requested are manufactured in Ireland. 
Cuba Support Group Ireland calls on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to immediately charter an Aer Lingus jet to fly the medicines, specialist burns equipment, and clinical supplies requested by the Cuban health ministry directly to Cuba from our own stocks and resources. 
Cuba Support Group Ireland has a copy of the manifest of the medical supplies requested by Cuba. The Cuban health authorities are barred from accessing supplies of these medicines on the international market as a direct result of the recent intensification of the criminal US blockade of the Island. 

The Matanzas Oil Terminal disaster serves to highlight that the only durable solution to protecting the health of Cuban citizens is the total removal of the illegal and immoral US medical blockade of Cuba. 

The people of Ireland have the opportunity now to give practical expression to their long-stated condemnation of the US blockade of Cuba. The pride of seeing the national carrier land on the tarmac of Jose Marti International Airport filled with emergency medical assistance should not be missed and would be a fitting acknowledgment of the trust placed in us by those nations that supported our elevation to a seat on the UN Security Council. 

Signed – National Executive Committee, 
Cuba Support Group Ireland, 
12 August 2022.

Notes for editors:

EU commission notice confirmed on the Cuban Foreign Affairs website today:  https://cubaminrex.cu/en/eu-activates-civil-protection-support-cuba-face-fire

Once activated, this mechanism coordinates member state assistance. This means that IrishAid acting directly from the Dept of Foreign Affairs, or using the Irish Red Cross acting as an intermediary, can send a plane to Cuba with emergency supplies. Anything which is airlifted into Cuba is exempt from the US blockade legislation. Assistance provided by surface transport requires a US permit which, experience tells us, will not be granted. 

The Cuban Embassy in Dublin has provided CSGI with a list of urgent medical supplies required. It is likely that this is the same list that has been supplied to the EU commission. Ireland appears to be the main manufacturer of many of the generic medicines on the list and the HSE is likely to hold emergency stocks of the other products listed. This list is available to download here 

For verification purposes, contact Bill O’Brien at 087 2939466. 


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