Brussels, 28 November 2008
The European Commission has adopted a new emergency decision of €6 million to provide emergency food and nutritional assistance to around a million people in Haiti. The Humanitarian Aid department of the European Commission (ECHO) will be soon opening an office in Port au Prince to monitor the evolution of the situation and the implementation of its humanitarian aid.
Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said: "The European Commission has already allocated €20 million in humanitarian aid to Haiti since the beginning of 2008. But Haiti's classic humanitarian challenges have been worsened by a series of tropical storms and hurricanes resulting in more than 800 deaths, losses in crops, destruction of thousands of homes, roads and major infrastructures. Malnutrition and food-security are growing concerns. Helping the people of Haiti to meet their basic needs has to be the top priority for the international community as a whole."
Prior to the start of the hurricane season, it was estimated that up to three million Haitians were facing food insecurity, 23% of the population suffered from chronic malnutrition and 4.5% from acute malnutrition. Then, during August and September, the country was struck by an unprecedented succession of tropical storms and hurricanes.
Over the next few months, food security in Haiti is expected to get worse due to persistently high food prices, increased transport costs, the cumulative impact of the recent storms and declining foreign investment.
The €6 million emergency decision will benefit around a million people. The focus will be on food security and nutrition, including public health measures to improve nutrition (water, sanitation and hygiene). The aid will be channelled through the Commission's partners delivering relief in Haiti: UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and the Red Cross.
The new office in Port au Prince will be headed by a senior humanitarian aid expert. Its work will include needs assessment and project monitoring, as well as liaison and coordination with implementing partners and other humanitarian actors. Commission-funded humanitarian projects in Haiti have been monitored up to now from Santo Domingo.