TALLINN — Budget deficits and the economic crisis did not stop the governments of the Baltic states from donating €275,000 this month to help Haiti’s recovery from the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake.
Reflecting the condition of the national government’s budget vis-à-vis its southern neighbors, Estonia gave the most of the three Baltic states by a long-shot with a €255,000 donation, upping an initial offer of €63,600. As a percentage of gross domestic product Estonia’s donation is the fourth-largest in the European Union.
“Victims of the earthquake are lacking in medical supplies, food and drinking water, and thousands are without shelter. Access to the disaster zone is also difficult. Haiti needs medical equipment, search and rescue technology, and means of communications,” Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet said in a statement to the press. “With the help of their observers, international organizations will be able to best assess the situation and the nature of the aid needed.”
Latvia managed to squeeze €15,000 from its strapped national government, currently dependent on loans from the International Monetary Fund and EU to stay solvent. Lithuania, whose finances are also deep in the red but has avoided an international bailout, is donating €14,400.
“Lithuania pledged 50,000 litai and it’s encouraging NGO’s to collect money for Haiti people,” Ridas Jasiulionis, an adviser to the prime minister, told Baltic Reports. “It’s going very well. Non-government organizations are collecting that money and I read one organization, Save the Children, they collected almost 3,000 litai (€870).”
The EU member states pledged a total of €96 million of their own money, and the union as a whole will donate over €400 million. The U.S. is sending €70 million and 10,000 troops to maintain order.
Meanwhile in Haiti the death toll is estimated to be between 100,000 and 200,000 according to the country’s interior ministry and aid is pouring in from around the world to help the impoverished nation recover from the massive earthquake and aftershocks.
UNICEF concert in Vilnius for Afghan aid
A UNICEF concert held Sunday at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theater in Vilnius raised €144,000 to build schools in Afghanistan. The concert was attended by actor Roger Moore, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, who met President Dalia Grybauskaitė to discuss aid for war-torn Afghanistan, where each the Baltic states have troops stationed.
“It is the duty of the international community and of all of us to take action together to make sure that peaceful living is restored for people, especially children, of this country devastated by unrest,” President Dalia Grybauskaitė said in a statement to the press.