Today, on World Humanitarian Day, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that Estonia always reacts immediately to situations that require humanitarian aid as a result of some kind of disaster. “It’s not possible for us to be on-site helping every single time, but Estonia does help those suffering as the result of natural and man-made disasters with donations through international humanitarian aid organisations or bilaterally, responding directly to appeals for help from the country,” said Paet.
“This year Estonia has supported people in countries suffering from drought and famine—Chad, the Central African Republic, Niger, and Somalia. We have also helped to alleviate the situation of people in crisis zones—Syria and South Sudan,” Paet noted. The foreign minister added that when possible Estonia has sent members of its Disaster Relief Team to disaster sites, for example Haiti following the earthquake of 2010 and Pakistan after flooding had taken place.
Paet said that Estonia has provided humanitarian aid since 1998. “Estonia made its first voluntary donation to the International Federation of the Red Cross, and after that we have provided aid to over thirty countries all over the world,” he added.
The foreign minister also noted that Estonia has gradually increased its support for the UN and other humanitarian aid organisations as well as the Red Cross. “This year we have nearly a million euros allocated for humanitarian aid,” said Paet.
Humanitarian aid is a fundamental way to express universal solidarity among people and is also our moral obligation. Providing humanitarian aid and participating in humanitarian aid missions is a vital part of Estonia’s foreign policy. The goal of humanitarian aid is to help during or in the aftermath of natural or man-made disasters to save human lives, reduce people’s suffering, and guarantee the necessary conditions for living a decent life, as well as to provide aid intended to prevent such situations and improve readiness to respond to disaster situations. Humanitarian aid is given in the situation that local aid providers are already over-burdened, helpless, or unwilling to act. Humanitarian aid is given based on the appeal made by the specific country, territory, union, regime, group, or international organisation.
The theme of this year’s World Humanitarian Day is “I Was Here”. Information on World Humanitarian Day can be found here: http://www.un.org/en/events/humanitarianday/
Estonia as a provider of humanitarian aid: http://www.vm.ee/?q=en/node/9849 Estonian participation in international humanitarian policy: http://www.vm.ee/?q=en/node/9850 Estonian humanitarian aid activities in 2012: http://www.vm.ee/?q=en/node/13875