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Brussels, 10th August 2008

European Commission announces fast-track humanitarian aid for civilians affected by the conflict between Georgia and the Russian Federation

The European Commission has released €1 million in fast-track aid to help cover the urgent humanitarian needs of thousands of civilians affected by the fighting in the region of South Ossetia and beyond in Georgia. Experts from the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) are in the region and are closely following the humanitarian situation.

Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said: "The European Commission is extremely concerned about the fighting and deplores the loss of lives and the human suffering it causes. We call for an immediate end of hostilities. Thousands of civilians, women and children are caught up in the fighting in and around South Ossetia. Our fast-track funding of 1 M€ is a very first contribution to meet their basic humanitarian needs. Further funds could be released as soon as the assessment of the needs will be finalized on the ground. However, emergency relief teams are only able to operate if all conflict parties respect international humanitarian law. Humanitarian access and safe passage for uprooted civilians and aid workers is crucial."

Commission support will cover emergency medical assistance, water and sanitation, food, non-foods items like blankets, clothes, kitchen-sets, emergency shelter and protection.

The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) is present in Georgia since 1993. However, its current €2 million humanitarian aid programme focuses solely on people most affected by the unresolved conflict with Abkhazia (see IP/07/1861). Since 1993, the Commission has provided humanitarian aid worth €104 million for Georgia, excluding today's emergency aid.

Commission-funded humanitarian projects are implemented by non-governmental relief organisations, specialised UN agencies and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement.

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