MINISTER O'DONNELL APPROVES OVER £200,000 FOR VICTIMS OF CONFLICT IN CHECHNYA
Liz O'Donnell, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs with responsibility for Overseas Development Assistance, has allocated IR£220,000 in humanitarian assistance in response to the situation in Chechnya. This allocation will be in addition to the upcoming European Union aid package of 1.2 million euro.
The Minister said:
"The suffering of civilians caught up in the current fighting in Chechnya has dramatically worsened with the onset of winter. Chechnya has almost no water, heating or basic medical supplies and 200,000 people have fled to neighbouring areas. The assistance I have announced today will be used to address essential needs for both these groups."
The provision of assistance is extremely difficult because of the security situation, including Russian restrictions on entry into Chechnya. The virtual absence of humanitarian agencies in Chechnya makes it hard to verify the needs of the vulnerable population.
Minister O'Donnell said:
"It is essential to ensure that full access to Chechnya is given to humanitarian agencies. Of course humanitarian assistance can only ease the sufferings of victims of conflict - an end to the fighting and political negotiations should be the way forward. The current situation requires that all sides respect international humanitarian law and shun the use of indiscriminate force which threatens the lives of civilians. Ireland will continue to raise these issues both bilaterally with the Russian Government and through our membership of the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe."