The international community has expressed concern over the civilian casualties caused by the conflict in Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia.
The European Commission on Sunday announced a fast-track humanitarian aid of 1 million euros (US$1.53 million) for civilians affected by the conflict, said a news release from the commission, the executive arm of the European Union.
The aid will cover emergency medical assistance, water and sanitation, food, non-food items like blankets, clothes, kitchen sets, emergency shelter and protection, it said.
The commission "is extremely concerned about the fighting and deplores the loss of lives and the human suffering it causes," said Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid.
"We call for an immediate end to hostilities," he said.
In Geneva, Antonio Guterres, a UN high commissioner for refugees, expressed on Sunday his grave concern over the casualties in and around the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia.
"The conflict has caused civilian casualties and more are at risk," and "many people need help and many are seeking safety elsewhere," he said in a statement.
"It is essential that humanitarian agencies be able to reach the affected and the displaced, and that those trapped in conflict areas be granted passage to safer areas as soon as possible," he said.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini Sunday also called for an immediate end to the South Ossetia conflict.
In an interview with TV channel SKY TG 24, Frattini said Premier Silvio Berlusconi was deeply concerned over the situation in South Ossetia and discussed with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country is currently holding the EU presidency, on possible concerted actions on the crisis.
The foreign minister also said that it would be impossible for the sides concerned to resume dialogue without an end to the war.
According to local media, Berlusconi had telephoned Russian Premier Vladimir Putin and called for an immediate ceasefire in the region.
South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia, a former Soviet republic, in the early 1990s and has been controlled by a secessionist government since then although its independence has not been internationally recognized.
On Friday, Georgian troops began a military action against South Ossetia's forces in an attempt to re-establish control over the region. In response, Russian troops moved into the region to fight the Georgian forces.
Meanwhile, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Sunday Georgia must withdraw all its troops from South Ossetia and a legally binding agreement on the non-use of force must be signed to normalize the situation there, the Kremlin press service said.
During his telephone conversation with Sarkozy, Medvedev indicated that Georgia should take all these steps without any preliminary conditions, the Kremlin said.
Georgia submitted on Sunday to the Russian embassy in Tbilisi a note on cease-fire.
"Georgia is ready to start immediate talks with the Russian Federation on an end to all hostilities and a cease-fire," Interfax news agency quoted the Georgian Foreign Ministry as saying in a statement.
The ministry said all Georgian armed forces have been pulled out from the conflict zone, and a humanitarian corridor was formed for civilians and the wounded to leave the zone.
The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that it has received the note. However, it said exchanges of fire continued in the region and Georgian troops have not been fully withdrawn.
Ukraine warned Russia on Sunday that it could bar Russian Black Sea Fleet warships from returning to their Ukrainian base of Sevastopol due to their deployment to Georgia's coast, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"In order to prevent the circumstances in which Ukraine could be drawn into a military conflict ... Ukraine reserves the right to forbid the ships and vessels that may be involved in these actions from returning to the Ukrainian territory until the settlement of the conflict," the statement said.
Earlier Sunday, Russian warships arrived at the Georgian Black Sea coast to prevent weapons from landing by sea.
(Xinhua News Agency August 11, 2008)