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HUMANITARIAN AID: EU RALLIES TO HELP INDIAN QUAKE VICTIMS.

When news of the catastrophe broke on 26 January, the European Community Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) sent an expert to the crisis zone to make an initial assessment of the most pressing needs.In the meantime, ECHO has asked its operational partners already working in the area to identify how best and most speedily the funds can be deployed. At this stage, the main focus is likely to be on providing shelter materials, blankets, safe drinking water and emergency health care.Poul Nielson, European Commissioner in charge of the Humanitarian Aid portfolio, said that this was an initial, immediate contribution. The EU would be ready to increase the amount to provide further funding for relief efforts, once needs have been more fully assessed.ECHO is already active in this area of India, helping to tackle the effects of a serious drought, with recent support amounting to Euro 1.275 million. Its partners, who implement projects in India, include CARE International (UK), DANCHURCHAID, the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), Movimiento por la Paz, el Desarme y la Libertad (MPDL) and Oxfam (UK).During an official visit to India on 29 January (see separate article), External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten said that beyond immediate relief, the EU would be willing to envisage medium and long-term assistance for reconstruction of the affected areas and disaster preparedness. The Swedish Ambassador, Johan Nortenfeld, in his role of Presidency of the European Union in New Delhi, presented Indian External Affairs Minister, Jaswant Singh a summary of the collective efforts of the EU (commitments total Euro 19 million on 19 January). He told Mr Singh that all EU diplomatic missions present in Delhi are meeting regularly to update all available information, assess the situation and co-ordinate their efforts.--Ireland: IRGBP1 million pledged for relief operations out of which IRGBP250,000 is to be channelled through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The remainder will be allocated to NGOs when the need arises.Finland: FIM 5 million so far committed for relief operations including the dispatch of a Finnish Red Cross Emergency Referral Hospital. In addition, FIM 200,000 will be provided through Unicef of Finland and FIM 250,000 through Finnish Church Aid/Church Foreign Aid.Italy: USUSD300,000 to be channelled to Unicef for the provision of drugs and medical equipment. In addition, an aircraft with 30-40 tonnes of material (first aid kits, water purification tablets, tents, blankets, etc is set to arrive in Bhuj within two days). A technical mission headed by the Head of the Italian Directorate for Development Co-operation will assess further needs up to an amount of USD2.5 million.France: An aircraft carrying search and rescue staff from French Civil Security/Ministry of Home Affairs has arrived with four tonnes of equipment and sniffer dogs. Funds are also provided to French NGOs which have telecommunication experts and firemen in the area. More teams are expected to arrive.Austria: A team with sniffer dogs and specialists in water purification arrived on 27 January. In addition, USUSD 400,000 in emergency relief likely to be pledged by the Austrian Government on 30 January.Spain: Funding has been provided to Medecins Sans Frontieres for dispatching an aircraft with 40 tonnes of medical equipment. In addition, USUSD83,000 has been channelled via the Spanish Red Cross to the Indian Red Cross. The Spanish Agency for Development Co-operation has also pledged USUSD 100,000.Portugal: Portuguese civil society is contributing through fund-raising drives. No figures available.The Netherlands: Funds committed so far include USUSD1 million to Unicef for medical supplies, USD200,000 to IFRC, USD200,000 to Cordaid (to Caritas India), and USD1 million for operations still to be identified.United Kingdom: Pledges corresponding to GBP3 million have been made so far. Firm commitments include a GBP200,000 grant to a joint Anglo-Russian search and rescue team, GBP500,000 to IFRC and GBP200,000 to search and rescue operations. A two-person disaster and liaison team is operating out of Ahmedabad, preparing for the arrival of the UNDAC team and assisting local NGOs with co-ordination. In addition, a search and rescue mission of 67 staff landed in Bhuj (where a co-ordination office has been established) on 27 January. Three aircraft have arrived from the UK carrying tents, blankets, plastic sheets, roofing materials etc., and a fourth aircraft with medical supplies is expected.Denmark: Grants have been approved to IFRC (DKr 1.5 million) and the Lutheran World Service Federation (DKr 5 million). Pending a request from the Indian authorities, an aircraft carrying a fully staffed and equipped field office could also be dispatched.Belgium: Euro 1 million has been allocated to immediate relief operations through NGOs (still to be identified). One aircraft with some 20 medical staff and equipment is also expected.Germany: DM 1 million has been pledged for relief operations by NGOs. In addition, a 25-person team with sniffer dogs is operating in Bhuj.Greece: Immediate relief has been pledged in-kind, including two aircraft with tents, medical equipment, etc. expected to arrive on 31 January and 1 February respectively. An assessment mission (including the Director of the Greek NGO Doctors of the World and the Head of the Directorate of the Government's Humanitarian Aid Office) is arriving shortly.Sweden: USUSD500,000 has been granted to IFRC and further assistance via Swedish NGOs is likely to be forthcoming.--Euro 5.5 million for Belize, Mongolia, Afghanistan and the Congo.The European Commission has recently taken a number of other decisions totalling almost Euro 5.5 million to fund humanitarian aid in Belize, Mongolia, Afghanistan and the Republic of Congo. The assistance is channelled through the Community's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO).Hurricane Keith.Euro 850,000 has been allocated in emergency aid to help victims of Hurricane Keith in Belize. The storm, which struck at the end of September 2000, caused severe flooding and widespread damage. Some 44,000 people have been affected. ECHO's assistance, directed through two of its partners, covers food and drinking water supplies, and medical services aimed in particular at preventing epidemics. Funding is also being provided to repair the country's central medical laboratory and to enhance the blood transfusion service.Food aid for Mongolia.The livestock sector in Mongolia, which provides a livelihood for 30% of the country's population, has been seriously hit by last Summer's drought. A number of areas are facing food shortages with the onset of Winter. The Commission has therefore decided to extend an existing food distribution project in Uvs, which is one of the worst-affected regions, at a cost of Euro 575,000. The project, which is being implemented by a Danish NGO partner, targets some 38,000 vulnerable people.Support for displaced people in Afghanistan.Euro 3 million has been allocated for a series of activities run by 10 ECHO partners in various parts of Afghanistan. The country continues to face major humanitarian challenges after 21 years of civil war with recent fighting in the North-East resulting in further population displacements.The objectives of the new funding are to:* continue supplying aid (including nutritional and medical support and food in exchange for infrastructure work) to vulnerable people in Kabul and other urban centres;* continue to provide food and primary health care in frontline areas;* supply emergency aid, such as cooking kits, shelters and fuel, to people who have been displaced as a result of the fighting and the drought which is affecting the country.DRC refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo.Euro 1 million has been allocated by ECHO, through the UNHCR, to assist refugees recently arrived in the Republic of Congo from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). There has been a steady flow of people fleeing the fighting in the DRC over the last year and the new arrivals require assistance to meet their basic needs. The funds are being used to supply families with blankets, tarpaulins, kitchen utensils and water containers.
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Title Annotation:European Union
Publication:European Report
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:4EU
Date:Jan 31, 2001
Words:1326
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