Vienna, 28 March 2003 Press release

Ferrero-Waldner: "Help where it is needed most"


Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs provides 1 million for humanitarian assistance in Iraq

Vienna, 28 March 2003 - Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner stated today that the Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs will provide 1 million as emergency relief for humanitarian measures in Iraq within the context of its development cooperation programme.

"Help should be provided where it is needed most. Children are always the greatest victims of the terrible consequences of an armed conflict. The pictures we receive from Iraq give renewed proof of this fact on a daily basis. We witnessed the same situation in the Balkans. It was largely because of the violent conflicts in the Balkans that Austria and particularly Slovenia gained a lot of experience in the treatment of children traumatised by war," said Ferrero-Waldner.

In the following week, the foreign minister will therefore discuss with her Slovenian counterpart Rupel how these experiences may be used for the benefit of Iraqi children. The so-called "Human Security Network" (an alliance of 13 countries from all continents established under the umbrella of the United Nations), which is currently chaired by Foreign Minister Ferrero-Waldner (a meeting of foreign ministers is scheduled to take place from 8 - 10 May in Graz, Austria), would constitute a suitable framework for this purpose, since one of the Austrian presidency's focal issues is "Children in Armed Conflicts".

Another part of the relief funds is to be managed by the UN. "It is my firm conviction that the UN must play a central role in the area of humanitarian assistance. Only the UN is able to efficiently coordinate the numerous relief measures that are being launched all over the world. Its work in this sphere is indispensable."

The remaining part of the funds will be distributed by the Austrian Red Cross, Caritas, and other respected relief organisations. "Austria has acquired an excellent international reputation in the field of humanitarian assistance through its generous aid rendered within the scope of its "Neighbour in Need" programme. Non-governmental organisations provide relief where it is needed most urgently, that's why their work is of invaluable importance to us. The Austrian citizens can be proud of the professional assistance rendered by these organisations. Therefore we will co-operate closely with the Red Cross, Caritas, etc.," Ferrero-Walder explained. "And I call on all Austrians not to shut their eyes to the grief of other people but to show their generosity - just as they have done on former occasions - and provide help where it is so urgently needed."