UN: Statement by Finland on the Launch of the UN's Flash Appeal for Lebanon

Statement on behalf of the European Union

Ms. Heidi Schroderus-Fox
Minister Counsellor
Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations

New York, 24 July 2006

(check against delivery)

Madame Chair,

I would like to thank you for organizing this meeting and for providing this valuable information on the continuously worsening humanitarian situation in Lebanon.

The European Union has expressed its acute concern about the very critical situation in the Middle East, and in particular about the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. We deplore the loss of civilian lives on all sides. The EU has called on both parties to alleviate the desperate humanitarian situation of the civilian population. All parties must do everything possible to protect the civilians and to refrain from actions in violation of international humanitarian law.

On behalf of the European Union, the Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Ms. Paula Lehtomäki, has together with Commissioner Mr. Louis Michel of the European Commission sent out a plea to the Israeli Foreign Minister Ms. Tzipi Livni and Minister of Defence Mr. Amir Perez, strongly urging for cessation of violence and returning to diplomacy. They urged the Israeli authorities to provide for urgent access and safe passage to be allowed in order to enable humanitarian workers and supplies to reach the most vulnerable populations affected by the conflict. In so doing, they wholeheartedly support the concrete proposal made by the Emergency Relief Coordinator Mr. Jan Egeland and his proposal for humanitarian corridors to be established.

The EU has taken an active role in the efforts to improve the humanitarian conditions in the Middle East. We consider it of crucial importance that humanitarian organisations and workers be able to work effectively in the region.

We support all the United Nations humanitarian relief efforts in the region in order to relieve the suffering of the people.

As announced already, the European Commission is launching an emergency decision for €10 million to provide humanitarian aid for victims of the conflict in Lebanon, to cover a range of urgent relief activities including the provision of emergency supplies for displaced people and medical assistance.

Speaking in my national capacity, I would like to inform you that the Finnish Government has agreed to take the necessary measures to grant €1.5 million in emergency relief for Lebanon, allocating the funds on the basis of the UN appeal.

Thank you, Madame Chair.