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Brussels, 17 July 2006

Commission ring-fences €5 million for immediate humanitarian assistance to victims in Lebanon

In response to the unfolding tragedy in the Middle East, the European Commission has announced that it has availed €5 million in humanitarian funds for possible relief action in Lebanon. Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, explained: "Innocent people are suffering as the conflict intensifies and we have a duty to ease that suffering as quickly and effectively as possible. Our funding decisions need to be based on proper needs assessments. With the blockade, it is very difficult at this stage to obtain reliable information about displaced civilians, the numbers of injured or the sectors where urgent relief is required. By earmarking €5 million, however, we can reassure our implementing partners – UN agencies, NGOs and the Red Cross/Crescent movement - that support will be speedily available to finance their emergency relief operations."

He continued: "The warring parties must surely recognise that everyone loses, the longer the fighting goes on. At the very least, they are obliged to respect the basic principles of international humanitarian law. They must stop indiscriminate attacks that kill and maim civilians and drive people from their homes. And they must provide secure humanitarian corridors enabling relief agencies to enter the conflict zone and carry out their work unmolested."

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