EUROPEAN COMMISSION INCREASES AID IN NORTH CAUCASUS BY 10 MILLION EUROS

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MOSCOW, October 25 (RIA Novosti) - The European Commission (EC) will allocate an additional 10 million euros for humanitarian aid in the North Caucasus, head of the EC delegation in Russia Marc Franco said at a press conference in Moscow.

Ten million euros will be added to funds the European Union has already allocated for this purpose over five years, Mr. Franco said.

According to him, the new total will be 150 million euros.

Mr. Franco said the purpose of the aid was to help refugees.

The head of the EU delegation's ECHO office in Russia, Phillippe Royan, said the aid was intended for 390,000 people in primarily Chechnya and Ingushetia, which neighbors Chechnya.

He noted that the EC's humanitarian aid was primarily intended to improve the living conditions of the people affected by the conflicts in Chechnya and internally displaced people.

Some groups of people in Chechnya will be given materials to rebuild and renovate their homes which were destroyed, Mr. Royan said.

He said that there was a special program to provide the population in Grozny and other districts of Chechnya with safe drinking water. Mr. Royan stressed that a large part of the humanitarian aid was intended for creating a high-quality health care system in Chechnya and Ingushetia.

He said special attention would be given to healthcare for mothers and children as well as surgeries.

The program also provides for opening kindergartens in Grozny and providing psychological services to people who suffered from the terrorist attack in Beslan.

Mr. Royan noted that the ECHO office also provided food for a number of schools in Chechnya and Ingushetia, and that it supplied low-income families in remote districts, with seeds and other farming equipment.

Mr. Franco said the EC is prepared to make long-term investments in Chechnya's economy, but that the Russian authorities must approve it.

The EC has stated more than once that it was readyto provide assistance in the social and economic development of this region but that the Russian government must approve it. He said that the issue was under the Russian authorities' jurisdiction.

Mr. Franco welcomed the Russian leadership's decision to establish a special commission for drafting a clear and coherent program for the region's social and economic development.

When such a program for the region's development is drafted, it would be prepared to support it, but that it could not assume the lead role, Mr. Franco emphasized.

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