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European Commission - Press release

Additional €1.5 million for most vulnerable drought victims in Afghanistan

Brussels, 21 November 2011 - The European Commission is releasing new funding of €1.5 million to provide food assistance for around 72,000 victims of the drought in northern Afghanistan. This brings the Commission's humanitarian response to this crisis to €4.5 million.

"The drought is taking a heavy toll in northern Afghanistan, where the affected communities are already weakened due to conflict, insecurity and under-development. Close to three million people are already suffering due to the drought and we fear the crisis will worsen before the 2012 harvest. This is why the European Commission is boosting its relief operation to the Afghans who are at the worst risk," said Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner responsible for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.

In line with its food assistance policy, the European Commission's humanitarian aid will be channelled through cash transfers (unconditional or through cash-for-work schemes) so that the most vulnerable households are able to buy food and other necessities from local markets. The funding will be channelled through the humanitarian partners of the Commission. ECHO will continue to monitor the situation to see if there is further need for additional assistance.

The European Commission has been closely monitoring the drought impact since June 2011. Humanitarian experts from the Commission conducted two assessment missions in the field and participated in an Emergency Food Security Assessment, led by the World Food Programme. Than k s to the data collected by its experts, the Commission ensures a well-targeted and effective crisis response.

EU development assistance

Between 2002- 2010 the European Commission committed more than €2 billion in assistance to Afghanistan, including €345.2 million in humanitarian assistance. Priority areas for the EU cooperation with Afghanistan include agriculture, governance, health and regional cooperation.

Agriculture

On medium and long-term development assistance, the availability of water for irrigation is a key constraint for the development of agriculture in Afghanistan (a dry country subject to drought where rainfall in winter, not during the crop season). Since 2004, the EU has been working on enhancing the sustainable development of the Panj-Amu river basin (representing 40% of the Afghan water resource).

The EU also supports animal health including technical and institutional assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock. In addition, The EU also provides support via UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to improve the productivity of major staple crops and ensure greater food security.

Background

Limited snow and rainfall during the winter and spring of 2011 has led to a serious drought in the north, north-east and west of Afghanistan, affecting around 2.8 million people. Afghanistan is prone to natural disasters, which exacerbate the vulnerability of a population already greatly weakened by civil war.

So far this year the European Commission has funded a €33 million humanitarian aid package for assistance to conflict and disaster-affected communities in Afghanistan, including support to those returning home. €5 million of this support has been earmarked for food assistance.

The European Commission has been involved in humanitarian work in Afghanistan since 1992. In the last decade, the Commission has provided more than €483 million to meet the basic needs of the Afghan population.

For more information:

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/georgieva/index_en.htm

The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm

Contacts :

David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)

Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)


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