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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: Estonia Contributes to European Union’s Effective Humanitarian Aid Policy

16.01.2012

No. 8-E

At his meeting today with European Union Commissioner for International Co-operation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Kristalina Georgieva, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that for Estonia, offering humanitarian aid is a natural part of the country’s foreign policy. “Our goal is to increase Estonia’s capabilities and contributions in reacting to global humanitarian crises. We will also continue to participate in shaping international humanitarian aid policies,” said Paet.

The foreign minister stated that in recent years Estonia has contributed to the discussion on international humanitarian aid policies as a member of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and as co-chairman of Good Humanitarian Donorship with Ireland.

Estonia also has rescue capabilities that meet global standards in the form of its Disaster Relief Team. “The Estonian Disaster Relief Team belongs to the International Humanitarian Partnership network along with the Nordic countries, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Germany, and our experts have participated in missions in Cyprus, Ukraine, Moldova, Pakistan, and Haiti,” said Paet.

Foreign Minister Paet also noted that the amount of humanitarian aid given by Estonia has increased from year to year. “While in 2005 our humanitarian aid budget totalled 96 000 euros, this year we have allocated 1.1 million euros for humanitarian aid,” he said. Paet added that the aid donated by Estonia goes to help address the aftermath of natural disasters and to help alleviate the situation in Sub-Saharan African countries and places suffering from long-term crises such as Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, and South Sudan. Estonia donates the majority of its humanitarian aid through UN aid organisations and International Red Cross organisations.

During their meeting, Paet and Georgieva also spoke about opportunities to make the humanitarian aid given by the European Union more effective. “Estonia supports increasing the financial resources intended for responding to disasters and humanitarian crises in the next European Union budget. We also support activities that strengthen developing countries’ ability to avoid and prevent crises,” said Paet. “Estonia, like the European Union, is also giving more attention to disaster readiness in developing countries. For out part, we have provided training primarily to the Eastern Partnership countries,” he added.

According to Paet, Estonia feels it is necessary to support developing countries also after the humanitarian aid phase has ended so that the country can transition to peace-keeping and building up the state. “For this it is necessary to have closer co-operation between the donors of humanitarian aid and development aid,” Paet noted. The foreign minister added that Estonia makes an effort to keep the transition aspect in mind while making its own humanitarian aid donations. “In the case of Afghanistan, in addition to giving humanitarian aid we have also carried out many development projects, particularly in the education and health care sectors,” he said.

Paet and Georgieva also spoke about the UN’s role in co-ordinating humanitarian aid. Paet said that Estonia supports the leadership role of the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in co-ordinating humanitarian aid. “However, OCHA must also take steps to increase its capabilities so that we can react to crises more efficiently and provide aid in every situation without any delay,” he asserted.

Photos from the meeting: http://www.flickr.com/photos/estonian-foreign-ministry

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