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Foreign Minister Paet: Estonian Rescue Workers Highly Valued in Crisis Areas

29.11.2010

No. 374-E

Today Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, Minister of the Interior Marko Pomerants, and director general of the Rescue Board Kalev Timberg presented mission medals to members of the Estonian Disaster Relief Team that have gone on humanitarian missions to disaster areas in Haiti, Poland and Moldova. Mission medals were given to 26 Estonian rescue workers.

At the medal ceremony, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet thanked the participants in rescue missions for their readiness and dedication to participate in difficult missions and help those in need. “The Haiti earthquake, Russian forest fires, and floods in Pakistan, Poland and Moldova are among the many natural disasters in 2010 to which Estonia sent its experts. Our rescue workers remain involved in the humanitarian aid mission in post-flood Pakistan,” said Paet. The foreign minister added that in addition to tackling the aftermath of natural disasters, Estonia is also helping to promote the health of people in Afghanistan, especially women and children.

“Estonia has managed to respond quickly to emergency situations and our efficient activities and contributions are noticed in Estonia and further abroad,” Paet emphasised, adding that the members of the Estonian Disaster Relief Team are highly valued and trusted experts. The foreign minister stated that Estonian experts are invited to join UN and European Union evaluation missions. Estonia has also become a significant co-operation partner in its own region. “We formed a team to deal with the aftermath of flooding together with Latvia and Lithuania. Estonia belongs to the International Humanitarian Partnership network along with the Nordic countries and the Netherlands, England and Germany,” he noted.

Interior Minister Marko Pomerants stated that the participation of Estonian rescue workers in international missions is a good example of development as well as cross-border co-operation. “Estonia fulfils its international obligations worthily and helps those who are in need. We will also receive help if the Estonian state is ever in need of aid. Our rescue workers have met international standards on their missions and we would like to formally recognise their service,” said Interior Minister Pomerants while thanking the Disaster Relief Team members.

Director general of the Rescue Board Kalev Timberg stated that the members of the Estonian Disaster Relief Team that have gone to disaster areas have done their work very well and their ability to actively respond to a variety of situations has improved year after year. “In order to help people in conflict and post-war regions and restore a normal way of life, we can not only send financial support, but increasingly we can also send manpower to help out in crisis areas,” said Timberg.

Russian Consul Sergei Stepanov also presented medals from the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations to the Estonian rescue workers for their help in extinguishing this summer’s forest fires.

In 2010 Estonia has made voluntary donations to international humanitarian aid organisations and earmarked donations to Haiti, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Sudan. Those sums in addition to the cost of sending rescue workers and supplies to disaster areas totalled 0.99 million EUR.

We have sent experts to provide aid in Haiti (17 logistics and medical experts), Afghanistan (2 medical experts), Russia (2 experts), Poland (9 experts), Moldova (11 experts), and Pakistan (4 experts).

Photos of the event: http://www.flickr.com/photos/estonian-foreign-ministry

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