Birmingham Summit: Appeal for more aid before winter: Yugoslavia

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

THE European Community yesterday called for more aid and faster delivery for the former Yugoslavia. Faced with the prospect of thousands at risk in the coming winter, the Twelve, meeting in Birmingham, announced that they would speed up assistance.

They said in a declaration that 213m ecus (pounds 170m) are ready for immediate disbursement, and called on member states to provide further staff and resources. But the calls from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for dollars 1bn (pounds 590m) for the winter have as yet not been heeded. About half this sum has been met from the international community so far.

The Twelve said they would immediately establish a task-force to support UNHCR, and urged it to set up a meeting of technical experts on emergency aid next week. They also asked for a stocktaking conference to assess the effectiveness of the aid operation.

But a previous conference on the humanitarian situation in Yugoslavia did little to galvanise the world's aid effort. Though it raised the profile of the issue, some aid officials complained afterwards of too many words and not enough money.

The appeals of the EC reflect the agenda of that meeting. At the Geneva meeting, Germany called for greater burden-sharing efforts by its EC partners. Germany has borne the brunt of the refugee outflow from Yugoslavia. But its EC partners are reluctant to take more themselves, in view of growing antagonisms between local populations and refugees.