Brussels, 22 August 2008
The European Commission, through its Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), has today allocated €5 million in humanitarian aid for vulnerable people affected by the conflict between Georgia and the Russian Federation. The new aid package comes on top of the €1 million fast-track humanitarian aid released by the Commission on 10 August, shortly after the conflict started. ECHO experts remain in the region, evaluating needs, coordinating activities with relief partner organisations and monitoring the use of Commission funds.
Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said: "The European Commission acted quickly and, immediately after the conflict broke, provided its first humanitarian assistance. We are now releasing additional funds following the United Nations' Georgia Crisis Flash Appeal and on the basis of our assessment of the evolving humanitarian situation on the spot and in consultation with partner relief organisations." The Commissioner added: "However, access to the conflict-affected areas remains the most serious constraint to our humanitarian response. I call upon the Russian authorities to ensure that humanitarian aid workers have full and safe access to the people in need."
The Commission's additional funding covers food aid, shelter, emergency water and sanitation facilities, non-food items like hygiene kits, clothes, blankets, water containers, cooking and kitchen utensils, health care, logistics and protection, notably for women and children. Mine clearance as well as mine awareness training and mine risk education activities, with a special emphasis on children, is also covered.
The beneficiaries will be the conflict-affected populations from Georgia: internally displaced people from the region of South Ossetia, the town of Gori and surrounding areas; the inhabitants of the town of Tskhinvali; people from the western part of Georgia fleeing the fighting in Abkhazia plus the returnees; refugees who fled from South Ossetia to the Russian Federation and those who have already returned to South Ossetia.
Commission-funded relief projects are implemented by non-governmental organisations, specialised UN agencies and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement. Of the €1 million the Commission allocated on 10 August to cover the most urgent humanitarian needs, the World Food Programme received €500.000 for food aid, the Danish Refugee Council received €300.000 for emergency shelter and non-food emergency items, and the French NGO Première Urgence received €200.000 for non-food emergency items, in particular hygiene kits. More than a dozen relief organisations are potential partners for the Commission's €5 million aid decision.
The EU has also activated its Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) which is the central operating hub of the Community Civil Protection Mechanism linking the civil protection authorities of 30 participating European States. A massive EU mobilisation replied to the Georgia request including assistance offered by the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, France, Greece, Hungary, Austria, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and Slovakia. Most of the assistance mobilised has been immediately delivered. It includes shelter material, medicines and emergency health supplies. France has also pooled transport capacities with Austria and the Slovak Republic and mobilised a joint European flight with technical civil protection equipment and relief items. Three MIC experts from Denmark, France and the UK were sent to Georgia in order to coordinate the assistance with ECHO experts.
For further information: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm