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European Commission - Press release

Democratic Republic of Congo: the European Commission boosts funding for bringing humanitarian aid to hard-to-reach people in need

Brussels, 08 March 2012 - The European Commission will strengthen its unique humanitarian air service in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with additional funding for helicopters bringing relief and aid workers. While visiting the country, Kristalina Georgieva, the Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, today announced up to €4million more this year. The funding will improve the access of humanitarian aid agencies to remote areas in DRC where relief aid is needed but impossible to bring by land. This decision brings the European Commission's humanitarian aid to the DRC to more than €60 million in 2012.

"We cannot help if we don't have access to the people who need our help. In the DRC, access is a real problem – relief is often most needed in remote areas and by displaced people. This is why it is essential to enable our humanitarian partners to reach the places where they are most needed," Commissioner Georgieva said, after visiting projects funded by the European Commission in South Kivu in the eastern DRC.

Background

Getting aid to where it is needed can be a complicated task, and even more so in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The country spans an area that – if in Europe - would connect Denmark and Greece, Southern France and the Baltic States. The logistical challenges of getting humanitarian workers and aid supplies from A to B are numerous: jungle terrain, poor unpaved roads, often inexistent infrastructure and frequent flooding are only some of the obstacles. There are also attacks by armed groups such as the Lord's Resistance Army; security is a huge concern for aid agencies trying to transport people and equipment by land.

To overcome these obstacles and ensure humanitarian access to those in need, the European Commission provides a vital air service opening up remote areas to humanitarian aid agencies and enabling quick transportation of aid workers and cargo. Since 1994, ECHO Flight is the main tool used to get humanitarian aid to remote areas. It operates from Goma and Bunia in the DRC and Nairobi in Kenya. In 2011, the European Commission allocated €10 million for ECHO Flight in both countries. This enabled the transport of 18,826 passengers, along with 378 tones of humanitarian cargo supporting around 280 aid projects.

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

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/aid/stories/picture_stories/rdc01_en.htm

Contacts :

David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)

Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)


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