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Overview of Estonian humanitarian assistance

The objective of humanitarian aid provided by Estonia is to save human lives and deliver assistance to victims of natural or man-made disasters, focusing particularly on the most vulnerable population groups. Preventing crises and strengthening the security and resilience of the population has become more and more important in addition to reacting to catastrophes. Estonia assesses each and every need for humanitarian aid separately and provides aid in a way that is most suitable and feasible.

Estonian humanitarian aid policy is based on the Geneva Conventions, international humanitarian law and the principles of Good Humanitarian Donorship. Regarding development cooperation and humanitarian aid, Estonia also takes into account other more important international agreements, with which Estonia has joined as a member of the EU.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for providing and coordinating humanitarian aid. As preparing for and reacting to major accidents mainly includes civil protection, the Ministry of the Interior is responsible for disaster reduction. On a national level, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs cooperates with the Ministry of the Interior, Estonian Rescue Board, Health Board and with many Estonian non-governmental organisations. In order to improve the international humanitarian aid system and its coordination, Estonia, first and foremost, supports the central role of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the European Commission Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) and continues to support the activities of the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC).

Estonia has provided humanitarian aid since 1998 to victims of different natural and man-made disasters, mainly through UN humanitarian organisations and Red Cross family but also by providing bilateral humanitarian aid via own nonprofit organisations (NPOs) or through sending national rescue team (EDRT) or its members to the disaster areas.

No priority partner countries are determined for humanitarian aid. Special attention is paid to acute and long-time crisis. It is important for Estonia to systematically support long-term humanitarian crisis hotspots to alleviate human suffering and reduce possible migration pressures. In long-term crises, the main channels of cooperation are multilateral humanitarian aid agencies and trust funds, and in case of increased effectiveness, bilateral project activities. The decision to provide assistance is reached separately for each crisis, considering the needs on site, the specific request for assistance, and Estonia’s readiness to provide appropriate aid. Humanitarian aid can only be offered to countries that have been declared eligible for aid by the OECD Development Assistance Committee, from the budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

All Estonian humaniatarian aid contributions can be found in the database.

Last updated: 12 March 2018

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