EU pledges £6.8m to help civilians in Lebanon

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The Independent Online

The European Union today pledged 10 million euros (£6.8million) to help civilian victims of the violence in Lebanon.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the money would be dedicated to those in most urgent need of help "so that we can express our solidarity to the civilians that are suffering for this terrible conflict".

Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen of Finland, which holds the EU presidency, urged Israeli troops and Hezbollah guerillas to stop the violence.

"The EU stands ready to help. A strong international presence in southern Lebanon, approved by the (UN) Security Council, may be needed," said Vanhanen, speaking on behalf of the EU.

"However, all parties to the conflict must first commit to a cease-fire.

"They are not yet listening enough," he added.

"Violence must stop, rocket attacks must stop. Abducted soldiers must be released," Vanhanen said.

"Israel has a right to defend itself but its reaction should be appropriate." Barroso met with Vanhanen in Pori, on Finland's west coast.