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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Crises Sap International Aid for Russia




The international response to wars and natural disasters elsewhere has left Russia and its poverty problems out in the cold, the Red Cross said in a report released Thursday.


In its World Disasters Report, the organization said that donor countries and organizations react more strongly to dramatic events than to a chronic crisis like Russia's, caused largely by political decisions and compounded by the bitter Russian winter.


"Money available to countries like Russia has fallen off by about one-third, and that's a trend that will continue," Daniel Prewitt, head of the Moscow delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said at the Moscow presentation of the report Thursday.


Oleg Chestnov, director of the Russian Red Cross Society, said that while $150 million in aid has been sent to war-ravaged Kosovo, Russia - where one in three people lives below the poverty line - receives only $30 million to $50 million a year.


"That's the way the system and human psychology are made," Chestnov said.


The Red Cross provided relief for 1.5 million people in Russia last year, but it estimates that 44 million need assistance.


The report, which devotes an entire chapter to Russia, criticized this year's controversial U.S. and European Union food deals, worth some $950 million and 470 million euros ($485 million), respectively. The food aid is to be sold at market prices - "no use to the poor who could barely afford it in the first place, while threatening those farmers trying to sell their own wheat on domestic markets," the report said.


The report also called on the Russian government to fulfill its social obligations.


"The full implementation of social policy must be through state institutions and public administration. Successful disaster mitigation and relief for Russia will need to address the state's inability to play its proper role in supporting the poorest," the report said.


After the presentation Thursday, representatives of Johnson & Johnson Russia ceremonially handed over to Red Cross officials part of $1 million worth of hygiene products that the company is donating.


The aid will most likely be sent to Sakha, Chukotka, Buryatia, Magadan and Kamchatka - remote areas where the Red Cross has concentrated its efforts in Russia.