Greece undertakes urgent humanitarian action in order to cope with the crisis in Iraq

For several months now, the Greek Foreign Ministry has been preparing to cope with humanitarian problems arising from the war in Iraq. This preparation has been carried out discretely, since Greece's priority both in her national capacity as well as in her capacity as Presidency of the Council of the European Council was to solve the problem through diplomatic channels. Today, it is apparent that there is a pressing need for humanitarian aid action.
The planning of our policy has been based on a steady flow of data provided by Greek Embassies in neighboring countries, our continuous contact with the appropriate European Commission's services (ECHO) and UN bodies, a series of deliberations with all relevant Greek Institutions, both from the Government and civil society, as well as on evaluations of the situation made during visits of Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos to countries neighboring Iraq.

The whole set of humanitarian activities under preparation aims at satisfying the needs of the refugees that might seek refuge in neighboring countries after the beginning of war (setting up and operating refugee camps, medical care and food distribution), as well as the needs of the Iraqi population (medical care with an emphasis on children), once circumstances allow the entrance of humanitarian organizations into the country.

This humanitarian aid will be forwarded through Greek Embassies in the region and mainly through Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), which will be called upon to implement the humanitarian program, with support and financing from the Greek Foreign Ministry, which is coordinating the whole endeavor. The program will be implemented through close cooperation with other competent Greek Ministries, such as the Ministry of National Defense (air transport), the Ministry of Health (tents, medical items, medicines) the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Public Order etc.

The program also provides for Greek voluntary contribution to the appeals of international organizations and bodies of the UN system, such as the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR), UNICEF, OCHA etc.