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Brussels, 12 February 2009

Strengthening the international humanitarian response: Commission adopts €27 million capacity-building programme

The European Commission has adopted a new funding decision for €27 million to strengthen global humanitarian preparedness and the response capacity of international organisations. Daily experience confirms the view of the Commission's humanitarian partner organisations that there are still significant gaps to be filled, notably in respect of logistics, pre-positioning and disaster-preparedness in sectors such as health, water/sanitation, shelter, food assistance and protection.

Previous capacity-building support (€120m to date) has helped the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) among others, to develop a unified system for registering refugees in more than 20 countries. This allows it to identify and protect those at risk more effectively, as well as to register volunteers for repatriation where the context allows. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has received support to pinpoint better the protection needs of children in emergencies. This has assisted the agency and its partners to negotiate the release, demobilisation and reintegration of more than 8,000 children unlawfully exploited as child soldiers by armed forces in Darfur and Southern Sudan. The World Food Programme (WFP) has received help to establish five warehouses in different parts of the world where emergency stocks such as tents and medicines are pre-positioned. Essential supplies can thus be moved more quickly and economically to beneficiaries, as happened last year for victims of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar.

The Commission, through its Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), will continue to respond to capacity-building needs with targeted support for:

  • improved international coordination;
  • integrated logistics;
  • common approaches to rapid, multi-sectoral assessment to boost effective, evidence-based humanitarian decision-making;
  • promotion of food security response options;
  • strengthened capacity and advocacy for disaster risk reduction.

This decision keeps the Commission in the frontline of international donors supporting efforts to make the international humanitarian system more responsive and efficient.

The funding will be channelled to key international relief agencies: the World Health Organisation (WHO), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), UNICEF and WFP, as well their main partners and stakeholders. As capacity building aims to benefit humanitarian operations globally, this programme has the potential to impact positively on millions of people affected by humanitarian crises every year.

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