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Brussels, 8 August 2006
Intervention on environmental damages:
Evacuation of EU and third country nationals:
On 26 July, the Commission, the Presidency and the High Representative participated in the meeting of the Lebanon Core Group in Rome, which brought together several Arab states, EU Member States, the US, the UN Secretary-General and the World Bank. The conference discussed the core elements of a political solution to the crisis: the urgent need for a cease-fire, the immediate requirement for secure humanitarian access, and the conditions for a lasting peace, including the setting up of an international force with an UN mandate.
Immediately afterwards, an EU Troika (Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja and EUSR Marc Otte) left for Israel, Gaza, and Lebanon to convey a message of solidarity to the populations and to investigate with the authorities the path towards a global solution to the conflict. In Tel Aviv, the Troika pressed for the facilitation of humanitarian aid delivery through the opening of safe humanitarian corridors. In Beirut, the Troika met Prime Minister Siniora and the full Lebanese government, as well as Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri to discuss the means of supporting the implementation of the Lebanese government’s seven-point plan for peace. In addition the Troika met representatives of civil society to get a better understanding of the situation on the ground.
On 31 July, EU Foreign Ministers held an extraordinary meeting in Brussels to review the situation in the Middle East and agreed on the key principles for a political settlement of the crisis. They called for an immediate cessation of hostilities to be followed by a sustainable cease-fire. They strongly supported the efforts of the UN to define the political framework for a lasting solution.
They reiterated their willingness to play an important role in the deployment of an international force in South Lebanon and to contribute, together with international partners, to Lebanon’s future reconstruction and reform efforts. In the meantime, High Representative Javier Solana will engage in further diplomatic contacts with all players in the region.
On 4 August, the Commission issued a statement expressing its concern about the worsening access situation for humanitarian aid following Israeli attacks on the main transportation routes.
Five out of the 15 current members of the UN Security Council are EU Member States, working constructively towards an agreement on a UNSC Resolution as the basis for negotiations on a lasting solution.
In response to the emergency humanitarian needs, ECHO, the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department has committed €20 million in two emergency decisions (on 24 and 26 July 2006), covering shelter and non food items, health, water and sanitation, food, psycho-social support, protection and last but not least, co-ordination. These are being delivered through ECHO’s partners, including UN Agencies, the Red Cross family and NGO partners.
Given the rapid degradation of the humanitarian situation in Lebanon, a UN Flash Appeal was issued on 24 July for an amount of 150 M$ representing the needs for the coming 3 months. On 28 July the ICRC issued an appeal of €63 million. International NGOs have also asked for funding. Overall, these appeals issued to date represent over €200 million to cover the emergency needs for 3 to 4 months. The Commission is proposing to increase its response to €50 million (the €20 million already committed plus a new €30 million package), and is discussing the mobilisation of the Emergency Aid Reserve with the Council and European Parliament. This will be complemented by the €45million committed and pledged so far by EU Member States.
On 20 July, Lebanon made an appeal for international assistance in the form of medicines, supplies, materials for shelter and construction and fire-fighting equipment. The Community Civil Protection Mechanism was immediately activated. Eleven Member States have offered in-kind assistance, such as fire-fighting equipment, medicines, surgery kits, food, tents, beds and other humanitarian supplies, assistance that Lebanon has accepted. Whereas some Member States have the capability to send their assistance through their own means, the Monitoring and Information Centre of the Community Civil Protection Mechanism is also facilitating the passage of assistance through a ship, made available by a private company. The ship will leave the port of Marseille later this week to deliver nearly 60 tonnes of urgently needed humanitarian supplies to Lebanon.
Since the start of the Israeli military operation in Lebanon, humanitarian access and aid delivery to the victims has been seriously hampered. The EU has immediately supported the calls of ICRC and UN-OCHA for the Israeli authorities to open humanitarian corridors and provide safe passage in accordance with International Humanitarian Law.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) has agreed to liaise with international experts in order to operate a clearance and notification system to allow safe passage for humanitarian goods and personnel. An ECHO expert has been dispatched to the Commission Delegation in Tel Aviv and serves as liaison person with the Co-ordination structure for humanitarian relief at the Israeli Ministry of Defence.
Under the auspices of the Commission Delegation in Beirut, ECHO staff is assessing the humanitarian situation, monitoring the provision of humanitarian aid and ensuring full co-ordination with the Lebanese High Relief Committee (set up as aid co-ordination body by the Lebanese government), the EU Member States and the UN and other humanitarian partners. It has been joined in this task by a team of experts sent under the Community Civil Protection Mechanism. Together they are working to identify priority humanitarian needs, support the aid co-ordination efforts of the Lebanese authorities and the UN and facilitate the entry of assistance into Lebanon.
Internally displaced people
An estimated 280,000 people have left southern Lebanon, and more than 700,000 Lebanese in total have left their homes without leaving the country since the start of the conflict. About half of these internally displaced people (IDPs) are children. The majority of IDPs are staying with relatives or friends, whilst more than 100,000 are located in schools and public institutions throughout the country. In addition, more than 120,000 persons have sought refuge in neighbouring Syria.
Commission and EU Member States, through their humanitarian aid, are contributing to relieve the difficult situation by providing funding for food and non-food items such as milk powder, diapers, shelters, vaccinations, but also counselling support.
Efficient consular co-operation in Beirut, has led to the orderly evacuation of some 40,000 EU citizens wishing to leave the country, backed up with daily teleconferences between Member States and the EU institutions, and sharing of transport assets between Member States.
Cyprus turned to the EU's Civil Protection Mechanism on 21 July 2006 seeking support and assistance from the EU in removing bottlenecks in the Lebanon relief and evacuation efforts. This was immediately granted through the dispatch of an expert team to assist the Cypriot authorities and to assess the situation through the Commission's Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC). The MIC expert team in Cyprus is in contact with other international actors, and is coordinating Member States' in-kind contributions to the humanitarian operation to Lebanon.
Commissioner Stavros Dimas, responsible for the Community Civil Protection Mechanism and for the environment, travelled to Cyprus and met with the Cypriot government on 25 July 2006 to discuss further EU support in coping with the evacuation flows.
The Commission is also assisting in the evacuation of the around of 10,000 non-EU citizens in Lebanon, many of them from poor countries. In response to an appeal by the International Organisation for Migration, the Commission is making available €11 million from the Rapid Reaction Mechanism to assist in particular in the evacuation of the most vulnerable people (in particular women and children) via Cyprus or Syria.
This package is also providing support and medical assistance to evacuees in transit countries (mainly Syria, Jordan and Cyprus) and ensuring a swift and orderly evacuation to their home countries. Today over 5,400 people have been assisted and it is expected that by the end of the week the total number of people assisted will be 8,000.
On 27 July 2006, Lebanon requested urgent help to contain the environmental damage following an Israeli missile attack on a power plant north of Beirut, causing a major oil spill off its coast.
The Commission is evaluating and monitoring the scope of the marine pollution on the basis of contacts of MIC experts with the Lebanese Ministry of Environment, of detailed satellite images provided by its partners and of the analysis that experts are doing of those satellite images.
Limiting the environmental damage caused by the oil spill in Lebanon is also one of the MIC's priorities during this emergency. The Commission has activated the International Charter (Space and Major Disasters) to obtain detailed satellite images of the Lebanese coastline. This will enable Lebanon and neighbouring states to measure the extent of the oil slick. The MIC has dispatched a team of three Danish coastal and marine pollution experts to assist the Lebanese authorities in the assessment and the clean-up operations. Moreover, Norway has donated 9 tonnes of equipment through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to remove the oil pollution. Other Member States have also informed the MIC of possible assistance to Lebanon through private channels. Several Member States have expressed their willingness to provide assistance once the hostilities in the region have ceased.
Commission scientists at the Joint Research Centre in Ispra are monitoring the impact of the oil spill, and are circulating regular reports through its networks.
ECHO is the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department. It has a rapid response capacity allowing it to deploy speedily to where assistance is needed. This enables ECHO partners (UN agencies, NGOs, Red Cross family) to begin work immediately, delivering shelter and medical aid to victims, providing clean water and sanitation, and supplying the other basic essentials of life. Aid is channelled impartially to people in need, regardless of their race, ethnic group, religion, gender, age, nationality or political affiliation. The European Commission is one of the world largest providers of humanitarian funding.
The Monitoring and Information Centre
The MIC is the operational centre of the Community mechanism for civil protection. Thirty countries participate in the mechanism, these being the 25 EU Member States plus Bulgaria, Romania, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The MIC is managed by DG Environment's Civil Protection Unit. Its main task is to facilitate the coordinated delivery of EU civil protection assistance to disaster-stricken areas. It also acts as a communication hub among participating states and affected countries. The MIC has played an active role in both Lebanon and Cyprus, closely cooperating with the EU Presidency and Member States since the outset of the crisis. In humanitarian emergencies it works closely with ECHO, the Commission’s service for the humanitarian aid.
The Joint Research Centre
The Commission's JRC provides scientific and technical support for the conception, development, implementation and monitoring of EU policies. The JRC's Institute for the Protection and Security uses scientific modelling techniques, satellite imagery and data collected in the field to analyse the spread of the slick and to identify risks to the marine habitat and coastline. This work is done in collaboration with a network of specialised international partners, including the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC), the German Space Agency as well as the Universities of Cyprus and Ljubljana.
See also previous release related to this emergency:
IP/06/1075: EU mobilising civil protection assistance for Lebanon and Cyprus (22 July 2006)
IP/06/1078: Commission activates civil protection mechanism to help Lebanon cope with major oil spill (28 July 2006)
TABLE WITH EU COMMITMENTS, PLEDGES AND IN-KIND ASSISTANCE
[Graphic in PDF & Word format]
 France and United Kingdom are permanent members; Denmark, Greece and Slovakia are currently temporary members.
 Council conclusions at
 See attached table with EU commitments, pledges and in-kind assistance to Lebanon since the conflict started.