01/10/2012 – ‘30,000 people is a population a medium-sized town in Finland’ says Pekka Tiainen ‘and here in Jordan, it is the number of Syrian refugees hosted in a camp in the middle of the desert. Of course humanitarian needs are tremendous especially with winter approaching. The refugees need heaters, blankets, containers for people to live in, but also ambulances and communication systems.‘
Pekka Tiainen has been deployed to Amman in Jordan as Liaison Officer to the European Civil Protection Mechanism together with a team of four civil protection experts from Member States. The team is responsible for coordinating in-kind donations from the 27 EU Member States plus Norway, Lichtenstein, Iceland, Croatia and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The MIC, as it is called in EU jargon, stands for the Monitoring and Information Centre based in DG ECHO, Brussels, and has been activated after a request from the Jordanian authorities on 14 September.
‘This basically means we analyse a request for a number of items and related quantities and advice Member States on priority needs of the affected population. In view of the upcoming winter season, for example we advised Member States to focus on blankets and winter-proof housing with heaters. Member States in turn reply to the MIC proposing donations’ explains Tiainen. So far Austria, Norway, the Slovak Republic and Luxembourg have responded. These in-kind contributions come in addition to the money already pledged by EU Member States for the Syrian crises: a total of over € 91.5 million.
‘Our job is to ensure that these donations reach their destination’ continues Tiainen. ‘We work hand-in-hand with the local authorities and deliver the donations to them. Here in Jordan, our main interlocutor is the Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization. But of course, we also had discussions with major UN agencies, the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation and international non-governmental organisations to make sure the goods are directed to those people who need them most. The information we are bringing home from this mission will enable us to give a better picture of the situation here in Jordan to the EU Member States and thus encourage further donations.‘ he concludes; ’The refugees continue to arrive and local resources are getting strained and there is no end in sight to the crisis.‘
By Heinke Veit,
Regional Information Officer in Amman