A Project of the American Enterprise Institute and the Federalist Society

EU doubles aid for Lebanon, warns of 'catastrophe'

Agence France Presse

July 20, 2006

The European Commission announced Thursday a doubling of its emergency aid for Lebanon, to 10 million euros (12.6 million dollars), warning of a humanitarian "catastrophe" if fighting continues there.

The European Union's executive arm urged all sides to respect international law to allow aid workers into the conflict zone, where hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing the violence.

"We are assessing the situation so that we can express our solidarity to the civilians that are suffering in this terrible conflict," said commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso during a visit to Finland, which holds the EU's presidency.

On Monday the Commission said it had earmarked five million euros in humanitarian aid for Lebanon, which would be given to UN agencies, NGOs and the Red Cross/Crescent movement to finance emergency relief operations.

In Brussels, an EU commission spokesman confirmed that the EU executive could unblock further funds if necessary.

"We are facing a serious humanitarian crisis," said Amadeu Altafaj, spokesman for EU aid commissioner Louis Michel, citing figures indicating there are already 500,000 internally displaced people (IDP) in Lebanon.

"But the figure could rapidly increase to one million if the fighting continues," he added.

He also underlined the practical problems facing aid workers trying to help those fleeing the violence, ranging from ensuring their own security to difficulty in obtaining visas.

"The European Commission urges all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law," he said, notably supporting a call for "humanitarian corridors" to be opened up in the region.

And, citing the EU commissioner, he added: "If the fighting doesn't stop .. the situation could rapidly become catastrophic."

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who has made two snap trips to the region since the fighting erupted, has said he hopes for an end to the violence by the end of next week.

"I think that we have time next week and we will work very, very hard to see if we can have an end of hostilities and the beginning of something of a political nature before the end of next week," he said Wednesday.

FAIR USE NOTICE. This document may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. NGOWatch is making this article available in our efforts to advance the understanding of NGO accountability, human rights, labor rights, social and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.