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.

As European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, pointed out that the “European Commission is extremely concerned about the fighting and deplores the loss of lives and the human suffering it causes. There are thousands of civilians, women and children who are caught up in the fighting in and around South Ossetia.”

In this situation the EU calls for an immediate end of hostilities, and has appointed a fast-track funding of 1 M€ as a first response contribution to meet the basic humanitarian needs of civil population. Further funds could be released as soon as the assessment of the needs will be finalized on the ground. However, as Commissioner Michel highlighted “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's support will cover emergency medical assistance, water and sanitation, food, non-foods items like blankets, clothes, kitchen-sets, emergency shelter and protection.

The EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), Javier Solana, called for urgent efforts to end the violence in South Ossetia, and with this objective spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Georgian Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili. Mr Solana stressed that the Commission will continue “to work relentlessly with the parties and the international community, in particular the OSCE, to help find a peaceful way out of the crisis.”

On August 8th, given the seriousness of the situation it was decided that envoys from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the European Union and the United States will be sent to Georgia to secure a ceasefire as soon as possible.

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. Since 1993, the Commission has provided humanitarian aid worth €104 million for Georgia, excluding present's emergency aid.

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