Responding immediately to an appeal, the European Commission has allocated €200,000 in humanitarian funding to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the EC official website reports on Wednesday.
According to the European Commission, the funding is part of the EU’s overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, managed by the IFRC. This immediate EU funding will support the IFRC and its national society, the Belarus Red Cross, to deliver much needed relief assistance, including food, hygiene kits, blankets, and first aid kits. The EU has mobilised an additional €500,000 in humanitarian funding and is currently in contact with its humanitarian partner organisations for the implementation of the funds, the press service of the EC says.
“The EU is supporting its humanitarian partners to help alleviate the suffering of people stranded at the border and in other parts of Belarus. I am calling for continuous access of humanitarian organisations from both sides to reach this large group of refugees and migrants to provide them with urgent assistance,” Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, said.
The European Commission stands ready to provide additional humanitarian funding in response to clearly established humanitarian needs, should the access for humanitarian partner organisations in Belarus further improve, the statement reads.
Last week, amid the ongoing migration crisis at the Belarusian-Polish border, the European Union was reported to be close to imposing more sanctions on Belarus, targeting some 30 individuals and entities including its foreign minister Uladzimir Makey and Belarus’ national air carrier Belavia. In the course of meeting with US leader Joe Biden, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the EU would ‘widen sanctions against Belarus very rapidly’.
On November 15, the Council of the EU amended its sanctions regime against the Belarusian authorities by broadening the listing criteria on which specific designations can be based. The EU is now able to target individuals and entities organising or contributing to activities by the Lukashenka regime that facilitate illegal crossing of the EU’s external borders.
On the same day, Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Angela Merkel had a telephone conversation. According to Lukashenka’s press service, they discussed ‘several issues, primarily the situation with refugees on the Belarusian-Polish, Belarusian-Lithuanian, and Belarusian-Latvian borders’. Later, when asked to comment on the conversation, Estonia’s Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets said that the Belarusian politician expressed readiness to pull the plug on the current migration crisis, but in exchange for the West’s recognising him as president and lifting sanctions imposed on the regime.
On November 16, a group of migrants who were seeking to illegally cross the Belarus-Poland border, started to throw stones, logs, metal pieces at Polish border guards from the Belarusian side. To stop the attackers, Polish officers resorted to using tear gas and water cannons.
Belsat.eu, via ec.europa.eu