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ECHO Annual Report 2009
The 2009 report on humanitarian aid by the European Union (EU) underlines the large number of crises and the increasing complexity of interventions. The EU is one of the world’s biggest donors of humanitarian aid. This year, its support to those in crisis situations has proved to be essential.
Annual Report of 9 April 2010 on Humanitarian Aid Policy and its Implementation in 2009 [COM(2010) 138 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Humanitarian crises are increasingly frequent and complex, due to the growing number of:
- refugees and displaced persons following conflicts;
- natural disasters related to climate change;
- persons made vulnerable by the economic crisis.
During 2009, 115 million persons benefited from European humanitarian aid. The budget initially planned had to be increased twice, using the ECHO emergency aid reserve. The EDF budget was also used to assist ACP countries.
The number of natural disasters is rising. They are mainly weather-related. In response, ECHO leads emergency operations and also disaster preparedness actions in the most vulnerable areas.
In 2009, interventions concerned:
- floods in Afghanistan, India, Tajikistan and West Africa;
- cyclones, tropical storms and hurricanes in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, India, Philippines, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Cuba, Fiji and Papua New Guinea;
- droughts in the Greater Horn of Africa, the Sahel, Madagascar, the Palestinian territories and the Syrian Arab Republic;
- earthquakes in Indonesia;
- epidemics in West Africa, Southern Africa and Papua New Guinea;
- crop failures in Uganda, Laos and Bangladesh.
“Man-made” crises led to:
- population displacement following conflicts in Sri Lanka, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan;
- an increase in the need for basic essentials particularly in terms of health, food and water/sanitation in the Gaza Strip, following the attack by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF);
- an increase in population vulnerability in Afghanistan and Somalia due to a deterioration in safety conditions, drought and soaring food prices.
Most funding was allocated to the Sudan due to the Darfur crisis which led to the displacement of more than 6.5 million persons; and to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where almost 3 million persons were displaced due to border conflicts.
The report highlights the bad working conditions of humanitarian workers who are increasingly restricted by the authorities of certain countries, violations of human rights, as well as attacks and hostage-taking in conflict zones.
However, the humanitarian situation has improved in certain countries. This is the case in North-Uganda where the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan was implemented in 2009. Zimbabwe also made progress in terms of health services, water supply, liberalisation of the economy, agriculture and employment. Finally, in Sri Lanka, many of the persons displaced following conflict have been able to return to their places of origin.
Political and institutional developments
A Working Group has been created within the Council, to deal with humanitarian aid and food aid (COHAFA). It should facilitate the implementation of the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid.
The Commission has also established close working relationships with the new Committee on Development (DEVE) which has been elected within the new European Parliament.