The UN praised Estonia for its contribution in relieving humanitarian crises


At his meeting with Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet today in Tallinn, Director of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Rashid Khalikov expressed his appreciation and gratitude for Estonia’s contribution to alleviating the humanitarian crisis. “For Estonia, providing humanitarian assistance is a self-evident part of foreign political activity. Our goal is to increase Estonia’s capability and contribution to global humanitarian crisis response, and we will also continue to participate in the shaping of international humanitarian policy," Foreign Minister Paet said.

Khalikov and Paet discussed the latest developments in Ukraine, the humanitarian crises in Syria and the Central African Republic and humanitarian challenges in general.
When discussing the situation in Ukraine and the latest developments, Paet and Khalikov expressed deep concern about the tragic events and violence spreading in the country. “The current situation in Ukraine is very complicated and we continue to be ready to offer every kind of help,” Paet added. Estonia has supported the introduction of e-government applications in cities and oblasts in Western Ukraine. Paet added that Estonia has allocated a total amount of 155 000 euros in humanitarian aid to Ukrainians injured in the street protests.

According to Paet, Estonia's ability to provide humanitarian aid has increased. “In the future, we would like to continue to focus more attention on increasing disaster preparedness in developing countries. We would also like to keep our rescue team capability at its current high level,” he added. Last year Estonia provided a total of 2.3 million euros in humanitarian aid, which included both acute and so-called forgotten conflicts. For instance the Central African Republic, the Philippines, Somalia, Mali, South Sudan and Chad received aid from Estonia.

As of June of this year, Estonia will be a member of the United Nations OCHA Donor Support Group. “Joining the donor support group will give us an even greater opportunity to contribute to making the humanitarian aid system more efficient and to show that we want to assist the needy in remote areas as well,” Foreign Minister Paet said. The donor support group currently includes 25 of the most important donor countries, who have a say in shaping the organization's policy, finance and administration.         

Paet and Khalikov also discussed the challenges of providing humanitarian aid, including the problem of restricting the activities of humanitarian organizations. “In military crises, a big problem is that neither side of the conflict recognizes the principles of international humanitarian law, civilians are used as human shields and humanitarian organizations are also being attacked,” the minister said, citing examples such as Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan and the Central African Republic. “States stricken by conflict and disaster need to be convinced of the goal of providing humanitarian aid, in order to help ensure access to the victims," Paet said. “The UN must also do more to combat violence against women,” he added.

Guaranteeing security for humanitarian personnel was also discussed, which is increasingly a major concern Paet said. "It is alarming that, in addition to individual hostile attacks, there has also been an increase in the general negative attitude towards humanitarian aid workers in some places," Paet added, stressing the need to improve the safety of humanitarian workers.

According to the foreign minister, due to global challenges and changed circumstances in the world, new approaches are needed to cope with the growing need for humanitarian challenges. “We look forward to a renewed consensus from the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 in Istanbul in order to implement good humanitarian donor practices. We also find that instead of reacting to humanitarian crises, it is essential to focus greater emphasis on prevention,” Paet said. It is the first such high-level humanitarian event, which will bring together various UN humanitarian aid agencies, the International Red Cross Committee (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), United Nations member states, NGOs, local governments, businesses, academia, and those who have been injured in disasters or conflicts, with a view to agree to a new, united approach to providing humanitarian aid.

Photo of the meeting: 


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