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IP/09/355

Brussels, 5 March 2009

From Burundi to Zimbabwe: European Commission allocates nearly a quarter of a billion euro in humanitarian aid to vulnerable people in 12 African countries

The European Commission will provide a total of €247 million in humanitarian aid to vulnerable people in twelve African countries. The following allocations are to be made: Sudan – €110 million; Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – €45 million; Chad – €30 million; Burundi and refugees in Tanzania – €20 million; the Sahel region (Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger) – €13 million; Uganda – €12 million; Zimbabwe – €5.5 million and Kenya – €3 million. An additional €8.5 million are for ECHO Flight, a special humanitarian air service. All funds are channelled through the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) under the direct responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel.

Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said: "This humanitarian financing shows that Europe cares. Our help is crucial to saving lives and reducing suffering in the humanitarian hotspots on the African continent. This is the case in Zimbabwe, where there is almost no local capacity left to cope with the cholera epidemic. It is also the case in Sudan's Darfur region. These are just two of the many humanitarian crises in which millions could not survive without support from outside. More than half of the European Commission's relief aid budget goes to Africa."

He added: "There are many causes of humanitarian crises in Africa: extreme weather conditions and natural disasters like drought and floods, conflicts, epidemics, chronic food insecurity and poverty. Humanitarian aid is crucial in saving lives and alleviating suffering until longer term solutions are found. It goes to those most in need, irrespective of their nationality, religion, political affiliation or ethnic origin."

Sudan – €110 million

In its single largest humanitarian funding decision for a country, the Commission has allocated €110 million to save lives and to stabilize living conditions of up to 6.5 million vulnerable people in Sudan. More than 60% of the aid will go to Darfur with its 2.5 million displaced and two million people living in local communities including nomads whose coping mechanisms have been eroding steadily and who would hardly survive without external aid. The same applies for the 45,000 Chadian refugees living in Darfur. Violence as well as food insecurity is leading to thousands of new displacements every month, and the humanitarian situation in general has become increasingly precarious with access to people in need and aid delivery being particularly challenging.

In Southern Sudan, Commission funds continue to assist around two million people many of whom are returning home after two decades of war between the north and the south of the country. As in the rest of Sudan, the region is affected by emergencies such as epidemics, droughts and floods. Commission humanitarian aid focuses on people and areas facing extreme hardship. Since 2006, the Commission has allocated nearly €460 million in humanitarian aid to vulnerable people in Sudan, including today's allocation.

Democratic Republic of Congo – €45 million

Whereas much of the country has continued to stabilise and enjoy some modest growth, the eastern provinces have relapsed into conflict over the course of 2008, displacing hundreds of thousands of people in need of humanitarian assistance. Commission-funded activities in 2009 will reflect on the contrasting situation. It will support full humanitarian assistance programmes in the eastern provinces as well as food security programmes to help vulnerable people stay self-sufficient and will provide response capacities to fight malnutrition and the frequent outbreaks of epidemics throughout the country. Since 2006, the Commission has allocated more than €176 million to vulnerable people in the DRC, including today's allocation.

"ECHO Flight"– €8.5 million

The Commission also runs a dedicated humanitarian air service called "ECHO Flight" covering mainly the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya, as many humanitarian projects in the region can only be reached by air. The Commission has allocated €8.5 million to continue ECHO Flight throughout 2009.

Chad – €30 million

Chad suffers from chronic food insecurity as well as from internal conflict. The latter received international media attention in February 2008 when the armed opposition attacked the capital N'Djamena. Since 2006, around 185,000 Chadians have been internally displaced, joining 257,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur and 57,000 refugees from the Central African Republic in Chad. At the same time, more than 36,000 Chadians have sought refuge in Darfur. The Commission will maintain its multi-sectoral humanitarian aid – ranging from food assistance to health, water and sanitation and humanitarian air transport – to these refugees and to displaced as well as vulnerable host communities. Since 2006, the Commission has allocated more than €105 million to suffering people in Chad, including today's allocation.

Burundi and Tanzania – €20 million

The Commission has allocated €20 million to meet continuing humanitarian needs in Burundi as well as supporting the voluntary repatriation and resettlement of Burundian refugees in Tanzania. The Commission's assistance also covers the humanitarian needs of Congolese refugees in Tanzania and Burundi. Since 2006, the Commission has allocated more than €102 million to vulnerable people in the two countries, including today's allocation.

Sahel – € 13 million

The aim of the Commission's humanitarian assistance in the Sahel region is to reduce acute malnutrition and consequent infant and maternal mortality in four countries: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. An estimated 1.3 million acutely malnourished under-five year old children as well as up to five million pregnant and breast-feeding women will benefit from this assistance. Since 2007, the Commission has allocated €75 million to vulnerable people in the Sahel region of Western Africa, including today's allocation. Humanitarian aid is acting as a catalyst to leverage substantial longer term development assistance.

Uganda – €12 million

The Commission's humanitarian assistance will support two principal groups of vulnerable Ugandans: (1) populations in north-central Uganda displaced by more than 20 years of violent conflict and (2) drought affected communities in the north-eastern Karamoja region. Since 2006, the Commission has allocated more than €82.5 million in humanitarian aid to vulnerable people in Uganda, including today's allocation.

Zimbabwe – €5.5 million

The Commission has increased its support to fight the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe by allocating €5.5 million in humanitarian aid. On 10 February, there were 71,410 reported cases with 3,501 deaths. Cholera has spread beyond Zimbabwe's borders with Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia most affected. The Commission is the main donor to the operational health response to cholera. Its continued assistance will be mainly used for Zimbabwe, but could be extended to other countries if necessary.

Kenya – €3 million

The Commission provides humanitarian assistance to over 250,000 refugees, mainly from Somalia, living in camps in Kenya. Since 2007, the Commission has allocated €27.5 million to vulnerable people in Kenya, including today's allocation.

Background

All Commission-funded projects are implemented by non-governmental relief organisations, specialised UN agencies and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement. ECHO has support offices in most of the countries concerned and its field experts closely follow developments in the humanitarian situation and play an active role in the local coordination of relief efforts. They also monitor the use of the Commission's relief funds.

For further information: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm


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