Summary: Humanitarian Aid and Early Recovery in Lebanon: The EU’s Actions (31 August 2006: Brussels)
This joint press statement from the Presidency/European Commission/Council General Secretariat:
- highlights the EU's overall effort in support of Lebanon; figures are updated in the light of the pledges made at the Stockholm international donor conference held today
- provides a background on what has been done and what is expected to be done by 31 December 2006 by EU Member States and the European Community for humanitarian aid and early recovery;
- recalls the political efforts carried out by the Finnish Presidency, the SG/HR Javier Solana and the European Commission in the region in order to put an end to the hostilities and to providehumanitarian aid to Lebanon;
- underlines that the EU effort has to be seen as part of an overall framework for a stable and lasting peace in the Middle East.
Stockholm donor Conference on Lebanon
The European Union welcomed the international donor conference on Lebanon convened in Stockholm today by the Government of Sweden in response to the call in UN Security Council Resolution 1701(2006) for immediate steps to extend financial and humanitarian assistance to the Lebanese people. The conference focused on Lebanon's relief and early recovery.
The European Union's humanitarian aid response to the emergency situation in Lebanon has been swift and significant. Furthermore in-kind contributions were provided through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (MIC). Member States have met in August at the political level in order to coordinate their further efforts for the early recovery of Lebanon.
European Union humanitarian aid (pledged or effectively granted by Member States and the European Community) after the Stockholm conference is approximately € 330 million, of which € 107 million are provided by the European Commission. The European Union will continue to support the Lebanese people.
Since the cessation of hostilities, the humanitarian situation in Lebanon has changed dramatically. Therefore, the focus of humanitarian assistance has now turned to short-term initiatives that support returnees and strengthen local capacity to respond to prevailing needs.
In this context, the European Union welcomes the establishment of the Relief and Recovery Cell in Prime Minister Siniora's office to take over the coordination of the early recovery and later the reconstruction efforts.
The European Union stands ready to help preparing the needs assessment for reconstruction under the leadership of the Government of Lebanon and in close cooperation with other international partners including the World Bank, by making available expertise and tchnical support. A comprehensive approach to reconstruction is the key to success. It is therefore essential that the needs assessment is undertaken in a coherent overall framework for the social, economic and political development of Lebanon.
The key priorities assessed at EU level at this stage in the areas mostly affected by the war in Lebanon are:
- removing all landmines
- ensuring access to drinking water in co operation with the UN
- lifting of sea and air blockade.
The comprehensive EU effort falls within the framework of UN Security Council Resolution 1701(2006).
From the onset of the crisis in Lebanon, the EU has responded through a coordinated effort in Beirut, Cyprus, national capitals and Brussels. The Presidency has been actively coordinating the situation in the consular field. The EU triggered the Community Civil Protection Mechanism to help Cyprus address the difficult logistical situation resulting from two large influxes of evacuees.
Visits to the region were made by Finland's Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Paula Lehtomäki, as well as the EU High Representative, Javier Solana, and members of the Commission.
At the extraordinary Council on 25 August 2006, EU ministers for Foreign Affairs reiterated the European Union's determination to bring humanitarian relief to the people of Lebanon. To that end, the Council underlined the urgency of lifting the air and sea blockade, and, in the light of the relevant provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1701(2006), recalled that establishing effective control measures, in the area of arms, related material, training or assistance, is therefore a priority. The Council welcomed the Stockholm Conference for Lebanon's Early Recovery. The Council emphasized that humanitarian aid, early recovery and reconstruction efforts must be conducted under the authority of the Lebanese Government and in the context of its national plan for rehabilitation, reform and development.