Austrian Contributions and Aid Initiatives
Austria has a long tradition of providing emergency disaster relief and humanitarian assistance in third countries for victims of natural catastrophes as well as of man-made humanitarian crises such as armed conflicts. Humanitarian assistance is provided both by technical and by financial aid, the latter often offered by donations from the population.
Austria has contributed significantly in the aftermath of natural disasters such as the hurricane Mitch catastrophe in Central America in 1998, the flooding in Mozambique in 2000 and the major earthquakes in Turkey (1999), India (2001) and Iran (2003), not only providing search and rescue teams and drinking water treatment plants, but also material and expertise for the reconstruction of private houses, the reconstruction of local water supply and sewage systems and the relaunching of agricultural production.
“Nachbar in Not – Neighbour in need”, a humanitarian assistance initiative set up in the 1990s in cooperation between major Austrian NGOs and the Austrian public broadcasting corporation to help civilian victims of the conflicts in the Balkans soon grew into the biggest private assistance action of the region. Beside contributions of food, medication and assistance for the relaunch of agricultural activities, assistance to mine victims and mine clearing actions was given and around 5000 private houses were rebuilt.
Missions in Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq and North Korea
Recently, Austria provided humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, focusing on the urgent needs of women as well as on mine action and drug control, to Sudan and to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. As an initiative to improve Iraqi hospital infrastructure, Austria together with its partners in the Human Security Network – Slovenia and Jordan – is providing psychosocial support for children and families in Iraq.
Austrian Support for UN-Bodies
Austria also continues to make major contributions to the humanitarian work of UNRWA (UN Relief Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Middle East), the Integrated Regional Information Network Outreach Project for Burundi and for assistance to refugees in Morocco. Austria has supported the work of OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) from the beginning, giving special attention to the problems faced by Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), the Field Coordination and Support Section, the Disaster Assessment and Coordination and the Military and Civil Defense Unit.