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ECHO Annual Report 2008
The 2008 Report of the Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) gives a summary of man-made or natural crises that have occurred in third countries. The rapid response capacity and the size of the budget allocated to humanitarian operations demonstrates the strategic role of the European Union (EU) at global level.
Report from the Commission of 1 July 2009 – Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) – Annual Report 2008 [COM(2009) 290 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
In 2008 the budget of the Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) was increased to Euro 937 million due to the increase in the number of natural disasters and soaring food prices. The budget for emergency food assistance was doubled in order to help over 25 million people.
Man-made crises affected many regions of the world in 2008. This was the case in South Ossetia due to the conflict between Georgia and the Russian Federation, in Kenya due to the political turmoil that led to the displacement of 500,000 people, in the Philippines following the failure of the peace agreement between the Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which led to the displacement of 550,000 people, and in Yemen and Sri Lanka due to the internal conflicts in those States.
A number of worsening humanitarian crises required special management due to their protracted or complex emergency nature; this was the case in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Commission’s strategy is also focused on the management of forgotten humanitarian crises (those where the needs are great yet which receive little attention on the part of donors and the media).
The Commission notes an increase in the frequency and extent of natural disasters.In 2008 it had to conduct relief operations in several regions of the world to help suffering populations who in some cases had already been affected by other types of crises. Cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons affected the Caribbean region, Madagascar, Burma/Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.The Horn of Africa, Sahel, Republic of Moldova, Paraguay, Honduras and Palestinian territories experienced periods of drought and Peru and Bolivia periods of extreme cold.China was affected by an earthquake and Benin, Latin America and the Caribbean region by epidemics. In addition, there were floods in Latin America, Bangladesh, Nepal, Namibia, India and Yemen.
The EU’s strategy for disaster risk reduction in developing countries, including the DIPECHO programmes, aims to make local communities more aware of the risks they face and to increase their resilience.
ECHO action is short-term oriented but the Commission encourages linking relief, rehabilitation and development (LLRD). It thereby helps populations affected by crises to return quickly to self-sufficiency.
Effectiveness of aid
ECHO action contributes to the definition of a humanitarian policy that is best adapted to situations of vulnerability. It aims to ensure the effectiveness and quality of the aid delivered. To this end the Commission recommends:
- developing the safety of staff involved in the delivery of aid;
- reinforcing partners’ capacities;
- strengthening rapid response capacity by organising multi-sectoral teams;
- extending communication and information strategies;
- supporting the training of staff involved in the delivery of aid, in particular via the ‘Network on Humanitarian Assistance’ (NOHA).
In 2008 humanitarian aid was delivered by UN agencies (46%), non-governmental organisations (44%) and international organisations (10%).