Tag Archives: Aid

Beirut: Michel calls for independent enquiry

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, travelled to Beirut on 8 August 2020 to convey EU solidarity with the people in Lebanon after the devastating explosions on 4 August.

The President visited the Port of Beirut to witness the scale of the disaster. He called for an independent enquiry to shed light on the causes of this catastrophe and offered European expertise. During his visit, President Michel met with representatives of the Lebanese Red Cross and paid his respect to the rescue teams, including Europeans, working around the clock and showing tremendous courage.

«I’m touched by the bravery of the Lebanese people who have been hit by this tragedy in an already difficult context. The EU is a long-standing friend and partner. We are in full solidarity with Lebanon more than ever in these difficult times», Charles Michel said.

President Michel repeated the EU readiness to continue the provision of urgent assistance to help the people in Lebanon. The EU has already activated its emergency mechanisms.

It has mobilised EUR 33 million for emergency needs and more than 250 rescuers from European Member States are on the ground. Tons of emergency supplies have been made available and more will follow. Together with the President of the European Commission, President Michel urged all EU Member States to intensify their support to Lebanon both for the immediate needs and for the longer-term reconstruction. It is key that assistance reaches those who need it.

During his visit, the President of the European Council met with President Michel Aoun, Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri and President of the Council of Ministers Hassan Diab. The unity and stability of Lebanon are all the more crucial today, both internally, and also for the whole region. President Michel also underlined the importance of structural reforms in line with the government’s reform plan and Lebanon’s international commitments and as called by the Lebanese people. An agreement with the International Monetary Fund is urgently needed. He therefore called for concrete steps to reform the financial system and to adopt anti-corruption measures.

« Local political forces should seize the opportunity and unite around a national effort to respond to the immediate needs but also more long term challenges the country is facing. It’s of critical importance for Lebanon to implement the fundamental structural reforms. The Lebanese can count on the European Union in this effort – but internal unity is key » Charles Michel has underlined.

Russia sends mobile hospital to Beirut

Russian Ministry of Emergency announced that five planes were immedialtey sent to Lebanon transporting mobile medical hospital for injured and specialists in search and rescue with equipment to work in the debris in the aftermath of explosion that occurred at Beirut Port on August 4.

The Ministry’s press office told radio Sputnik: “Five planes belonging to the Russian Ministry of Emergency will be sent as part of the humanitarian work to Beirut to provide assistance and eliminate the effects of the port explosion.”

The press office added: “The aircraft will transport a mobile hospital, doctors and workers from the rescue center, in addition to specialists from the Consumer Protection Authority, as well as laboratories to detect the emerging corona virus, Covid-19.”

The Ministry also announced the dispatch of experts from the Russian Consumer Protection Agency to Beirut, lab kits to test for coronavirus, clothes and means of protection.

A huge explosion shook the port of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, earlier on Tuesday, causing over 80 deaths deaths, 3,500 injuries and great material losses.

COVID19: EU approves UK £9bn SME aid

European Commission has approved a GBP 9 billion (approximately € 10.3 billion) UK aid scheme to support self-employed individuals and members of partnerships affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020, as amended on 3 April and 8 May 2020.

The UK notified to the Commission under the Temporary Framework a scheme to support lower-end income self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, which have been severely affected by the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme will allow them to continue their activities during and after the crisis.

The scheme will take the form of direct grants and will be applied to all sectors and to the whole territory of the UK.

The Commission found that the UK scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the income subsidy will be granted over a period of not more than twelve months and will be subject to the condition that the activity of the beneficiaries is ongoing and will be maintained; (ii) aid intensity will not exceed 80% of the monthly gross income (including social security contributions); and (ii) aid will not lead to overcompensation.

The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework.

On this basis, the Commission approved the measures under EU State aid rules.

According to the UK Withdrawal Agreement, during the transition period, EU law continues to apply to, and in, the UK as if it were a Member State. This includes all EU rules relating to State aid.

The Commission has adopted a Temporary Framework to enable Member States to use the full flexibility foreseen under State aid rules to support the economy in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The Temporary Framework, as amended on 3 April and 8 May 2020, provides for the following types of aid, which can be granted by Member States:

(i) Direct grants, equity injections, selective tax advantages and advance payments of up to €100,000 to a company active in the primary agricultural sector, €120,000 to a company active in the fishery and aquaculture sector and €800,000 to a company active in all other sectors to address its urgent liquidity needs. Member States can also give, up to the nominal value of €800,000 per company zero-interest loans or guarantees on loans covering 100% of the risk, except in the primary agriculture sector and in the fishery and aquaculture sector, where the limits of €100,000 and €120,000 per company respectively, apply.

COVID19: EU allocates Kyrgyzstan €36M aid

Аs part of the EU’s global response to the coronavirus outbreak in Kyrgyz Republic, a support package of €36 million will assist the gouverment of the Central Asian country in addressing immediate needs in the health sector and in its short- and longer-term socio-economic recovery. The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell discussed the importance of intensified regional cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus, and welcomed the commitment of Central Asian leaders in this respect.

On 7 May, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, held a phone call with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic, Chingiz Aidarbekov. They discussed the global response to the coronavirus pandemic and the EU’s support to Kyrgyzstan in that context, as well as the EU-Kyrgyzstan bilateral agenda and broader regional issues.

The high diplomat conveyed the EU’s strong solidarity with Kyrgyzstan in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The High Representative stressed that the EU continued to be a reliable and committed partner for countries around the world, including Kyrgyzstan and the other countries in the region.

High Representative Borrell and Foreign Minister Aidarbekov welcomed progress in EU-Kyrgyzstan relations, which is centred around a broad reform agenda, sustainable development, and shared principles and values, including human rights, as illustrated by the initialling last year of an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

Josep Borrell welcomed the willingness of Kyrgyzstan to sign the agreement by the end of the year and stressed the importance of developing bilateral relations across all areas, as well as regional cooperation under the EU’s Central Asia Strategy.

Erdogan requests aid for migrants

We had tonight a meeting with President Erdoğan. A few days after my visit in Ankara, it was important to have this occasion to exchange our views on different topics related to the relationship between Turkey and the European Union. And of course, the first topic we discussed is the implementation of the deal between the European Union and Turkey on migration. We had the occasion to share our different opinions about the implementation of this deal a few years after this agreement” said the EU Council president Charles Michel.

“It is also very important to share with you that we will debrief the member states. We consulted a lot the member states the last days. It was, of course, necessary in order to inform them, in order to listen to the member states and to their concern regarding the different topics we have to discuss with Turkey. We will debrief the member states and it will also be the occasion later with the member states, after this process, this High-Level Political and technical process, between Turkey and the European Union through Josep Borrell and his counterpart in Turkey. It will also be the occasion to have, again, a political dialogue at the level of president Erdoğan in the next days and in the next weeks in order to continue this process of information and consultation of the different member states” Michel continued.

We also had the opportunity to explain the difference for the European Union between the means which are paid and disbursed, because the procedures are accomplished and the projects carried out, and the means which are committed, ie reserved in the case of the six billion euro envelope that was mobilized in connection with this agreement. This is a first point. Second point: we also had the opportunity to discuss security issues in the region, especially in Syria, and to highlight our mobilization in support of any political solution to bring more stability, but above all to highlight the the great humanitarian concern we have in Idlib, as well as on the border between Turkey and Syria. And the possible mobilization of the European Union to try to provide support in this area” Michel underlined.

However President Erdogan did not participate int he final press-conference, and some commentators assessed the meeting did not pass as foreseen, ending by abrupt departure of Turkish delegation.

The experts pointed at the talks failure, indicating that the positions of the parties are too far away to reach any rapprochement, especially responding to President Erdogan’s request to open Greek borders to let the migrants to pass further to the other European countries. In 2016, the EU struck a a financial arrangement with Turkey that prevented displaced Syrians from entering the EU via Greece in exchange for six billion euro aid. The agreement, although criticised by many, for time being has helped to stop Europe’s biggest refugee influx since World War II. It is unclear if Erdogan has accepted the explanations of the EU side on delays of transfers of six billion migrant funds to Turkey. In line with his previous strategy Erdogan continued to request visa-free travel to Europe for Turkish citizens.

Finnish Jutta Urpilainen for EU development cooperation job

The Development Committee questioned  the candidate Jutta Urpilainen for the international partnerships portfolio on future development cooperation and respect of EU values.

Political groups’ coordinators from the committee will meet within 24 hours to assess the performance of Commissioner-designate Urpilainen.

During her introductory speech, Jutta Urpilainen said that the 2030 agenda for sustainable development goals is “a golden opportunity for the European Union” to continue to play a leadership role in supporting partner countries to eradicate poverty worldwide, whilst also “promoting values, including empowering women and girls as a precondition for inclusive societies”.

 

Gender equality should be a top priority and mainstreamed in all policies and programmes, she added.

MEPs put forward several questions on the ongoing negotiations on the proposed Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument, the post-Cotonou agreement with countries from the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, calling for greater transparency to keep the European Parliament and the public informed.

Members also questioned the Commissioner-designate on how she would ensure that EU values are respected, particularly on gender equality and women’s empowerment, which are a priority in international cooperation. Later in the hearing, MEPs raised the issue of linking development to migration challenges and the Paris Agreement on climate action.

The full hearing link below:

Half a billion EU aid to Afghanistan

The European Commission has today announced a financial package worth €474 million to support state building and public sector reforms, health, justice, and elections, as well as to address migration and displacement challenges in Afghanistan. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, made the announcement today at the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan, signing the financing agreements with the Afghan Minister of Finance Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi.

 

“The EU stands side by side with Afghanistan and its people to build a stronger future for the country. The EU’s new assistance package of €474 million will contribute towards addressing peace and security challenges and set up the foundations for a more stable and economically sustainable society. Through joint efforts we intend to reduce aid-dependency and invest in democratic governance for the benefit all citizens of the country”, Commissioner Mimica said.

The EU support package consists of:

Budget support through a State and Resilience Building Contract: the EU will support the Government of Afghanistan in pursuing its reform agenda with an allocation of €311 million. Funding will support: public sector reform and the fight against corruption; basic service delivery and gender equality; public financial management and macro-economic stability with a particular focus on domestic revenue mobilisation. Human rights, democratic values, peace and gender equality will continue to be at the core of EU action and in its discussions with the Government of Afghanistan.

Justice sector: €31 million will support justice reform by supporting the Attorney General’s office to become more effective and Afghan civil society to ensure that the Afghan justice system is accountable to citizens.

Health and nutrition: zero hunger and quality health for all remain central priorities of the European Union in the country. With a new €80 million support package, the EU will work in partnership with the Government of Afghanistan to improve the health and nutrition of the population, in line with the national plans and strategies until 2020.

Electoral process support: an ad hoc instrument worth €15.5 million will support the presidential and provincial council elections in 2019.

Migration and forced displacement: The European Union and the Government of Afghanistan signed a new commitment worth €37 million, which reinforces EU assistance to Afghanistan in addressing migration and forced displacement challenges, in particular the reintegration of people on the move and returnees in Afghanistan. This commitment brings the total EU contribution to the challenges in the region in this field to almost € 230 million.

We believe that this is the moment to begin serious peace talks. All of us at this table have something to contribute. On the European Union’s side, we are ready: as a facilitator; as a reliable provider of incentives; as a partner of all countries in the region; as a force for peace and cooperation; and, most importantly, as a reliable friend of the Afghan people” EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini said, addressing the Geneva conference.

Russia concerned by ‘humanitarian’ cash flows to terrorists

I am perplexed by the format of today’s meeting that does not include official representatives of the Syrian government, – Russian Ambassador to EU Vladimir Chizhov said, addressing II Conference on Future Syria in Brussels.

“It looks strange, to say the least, that the distinguished delegates are planning to help Syria in a situation when official contacts with the legitimate government of the country have for many years remained a taboo for European politicians, and some states have even been promising “not to give a cent” until political change takes place in Syria“, Ambassador continued. He added that Russia supports Syria in its determination to defeat the main military and political stronghold of terrorists, ISIS (Daesh).

Amb.Chizhov draw attention to established by Russia, Turkey and Iran Astana format of talks in support of the Syrian settlement, which “genuinely enabled progress” towards a political solution to be attained via a broad intra-Syrian dialogue and talks under UN auspices as envisaged by UNSC Resolution 2254.  The Sochi Congress of Syrian National Dialogue was another contribution to the process, he continued.

“We are convinced that the key to success on this track lies with ensuring compliance of all influential international and regional actors with their obligations regarding the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic” – Amb.Chizhov confirmed.

Sharing the view on humanitarian assistance to the population. Ambassador mentioned those civilians caught in military operations in Eastern Ghouta, Aleppo, the villages of al-Fu’ah and Kefraya still besieged by terrorists.

Chizhov reminded about inhabitants of Raqqa, the city “totally destroyed by US-led coalition bombings and half-forgotten by the international community“, or the Rukban camp for IDPs with no access available due to a 50 km “security zone” around al-Tanf unilaterally established by the US“.

Ambassador finds “surprising” a phenomenon of declaring “humanitarian catastrophe” on the territories controlled by militants. However as soon as the Syrian armed forces liberated Aleppo, or Eastern Ghouta from terrorists, the international community virtually went crying loud that a humanitarian catastrophe was allegedly unfolding there. “This was as long as militants were there. But once the issue was resolved nobody cared about the future of Syrians who had been living and continue to live there” – Chizhov regretted.

He pointed at Western  financial and economic sanctions as “inhuman‘, “suffocating“, and “counterproductivee”, denying the Syrian people the restoration of social and economic infrastructure. “Devastation, extreme poverty and despair form a fertile soil for new extremism to emerge and preserve conflict potential for many years ahead” – Chizhov warned.

Russia is seriously concerned by the forms and mechanisms of providing humanitarian aid by the West, while  transferring it directly to recipients in the form of cash, which allows to diverted to purposes quite different from those the donors are willing to achieve. “Cases are known when aid received was then sold at exorbitant prices, the proceeds from such trade used to buy weapons for terrorists, recruit new militants” – Chizov revealed.

Ambassador called for establishing close cooperation between potential donors and legitimate authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic to facilitate humanitarian aid access, and genuine improvement of the situation for people of Syria.

 

 

Trump for conditionality of aid to Palestinians

Palestinians condemned remarks of U.S. President Donald Trump’s to withhold future aid payments to  the Palestinians’ in case of their  unwillingness to engage in peace talks with Israel.

“We will not be blackmailed” – said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee.

Palestinian rage at Trump has been  already hovering high over his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a declaration that also generated outrage across the Arab world.

Since 2000, EU Humanitarian Aid has provided more than €700 million in humanitarian aid to help meet the basic needs of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Trump warns of aid cuts over Jerusalem raw

President Donald Trump warned about possible cut off financial aid to countries voting in favor of a draft United Nations resolution calling for the United States to withdraw its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us. Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care,” Trump said to press at the White House.

The 193-member UN General Assembly will hold a rare emergency special session on Thursday, December 21, at the request of Arab and Muslim countries  to vote on a draft resolution, which was vetoed by the United States on Monday in Security Council.

« Older Entries