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European Commission - Press release

Democratic Republic of Congo: Commissioner Georgieva announces increased humanitarian aid for "forgotten crisis"

Brussels, 05 March 2012 - Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, announced today she is scaling up funds for the plight of hundreds of thousands of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as she arrived in the capital Kinshasa.

This year the European Commission will channel €59 million in humanitarian aid to Africa's second-largest country. The European Commission is also supporting the Democratic Republic of Congo's prospects for development – the 10th European Development Fund has allocated around €584 million to the country between 2008 and 2013.

Millions of people in the DRC are going through one of the world's longest emergencies. Displacement on a massive scale is a problem unresolved for almost 20 years now. The country is struggling with tremendous difficulties. This is why we are increasing our funding for the DRC by ten percent compared to last year," Commissioner Georgieva said.

There are 1.7 million internally displaced people and 426,000 Congolese refugees in neighboring countries. The stark impact of conflict may be better understood through numbers - every citizen has, on average, been forced to move from their home territory three times during his or her lifetime. "The humanitarian needs are enormous. We need to prevent the whole country from becoming a forgotten crisis of 66 million people," said the Commissioner.

Conflicts are ongoing in three of the country's 11 provinces: North and South Kivu and Province Orientale where the European Commission funds aid projects. Commissioner Georgieva will visit the two Kivu provinces where more than 120,000 people were forced to flee the renewed fighting in a single month this year.

Commissioner Georgieva will meet today in Kinshasa with humanitarian partner organizations and the UN Stabilization Mission. In the coming days she will travel to Goma where she will visit European Commission-funded projects.

She will conclude her visit on International Women’s Day at the Commission-funded hospital of Panzi which specializes in treating survivors of sexual violence. “I am particularly glad to spend this year’s 8th of March with the women of the DRC. Their resilience to conflict, poverty, displacement and sexual aggression is a lesson in human dignity,” Commissioner Georgieva said.

In a country suffering from many complex and protracted crises, linking humanitarian relief to rehabilitation and development is particularly difficult. This is why the European Commission maintains a long-term vision for its humanitarian assistance in the DRC.

Since 2005, the Commission has provided €367 million in humanitarian aid inside the country, which makes it the largest relief aid donor there. It runs four offices in Kinshasa, Bunia, Bukavu and Goma.

Background

The DRC is currently the worst-scoring country on the Human Development Index (HDI 2011) in terms of life expectancy, education and standards of living.

Access to people in need is often a challenge due to security or logistical reasons. To get humanitarian aid to remote areas, the European Commission runs a humanitarian air service called ECHO Flight. Three of the four ECHO Flight airplanes are located in the DRC, where some areas can only be reached by foot or air. In 2011, the Commission allocated €10 million for ECHO Flight overall. The service transported 18,826 passengers, along with 378 tones of humanitarian cargo which supported 200 projects in the DRC.

For more information

MEMO/12/155 - The European Commission's humanitarian work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

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

The European Commission's humanitarian aid:

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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