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Brussels, 18 December 2001

The Afghan crisis. The humanitarian response of the European Union

Since 1991, the European Commission has committed some €500 million in aid to Afghan populations in need - implemented through UN agencies, the Red Cross movement and NGOs. For 2001, the Commission is committing almost €103 million. €52.4 million of this is being channelled through the Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO). The total EU response (Commission plus Member States) for 2001 is €352 million.

Summary of humanitarian aid decisions

Prior to 11 September, the Commission/ECHO took funding decisions totalling €23.4 million to support the most vulnerable people. Since 11 September, a further €29 million has been allocated through four funding decisions.

The most recent of these was a decision for €8.5 million on 7 December. Reflecting the flexibility of ECHO to changing circumstances on the ground, this includes assistance for:

  • people returning to their home areas (farming tools, seeds and shelter materials);

  • resident populations around Kandahar where new humanitarian needs have become evident.

  • mine/bomb clearance and related operations, given the increased risk of accidents with so many people on the move. This includes training in the disposal of new types of unexploded ordnance used by the coalition.

  • IDPs who are expected to remain in camps until the end of the winter;

  • drought-affected populations in the north and centre of the country;

  • logistics (WFP lorries and telecommunications, air transport for NGO staff and humanitarian cargos).

The funds are being channelled through WFP, FAO, IOM and seven NGOs.

In addition, the decision has a component for the re-opening of an ECHO office in Kabul.

A new decision is currently being prepared for around €2.5 million (final amount still to be confirmed). This will contain three main elements:

  • Support for the Strategic Monitoring Unit (SMU) set up by the Afghan Support Group which brings together donors, UN agencies and NGOs. The aim is to improve the emergency response by ensuring that lessons learned from other similar situations are analysed and disseminated.

  • Support for ACBAR, the NGO co-ordination body in Afghanistan, to enable it to collate information and disseminate this to its members, and to promote a strong NGO voice in discussions on humanitarian aid policy and implementation.

  • Funding for humanitarian data collection and mapping within Afghanistan.

For details of earlier decisions in 2001, see MEMO/01/392 of 29 November 2001.

ECHO has provisionally budgeted €25 million for Afghanistan for 2002. This figure may change depending on how the situation evolves.

Developments in the field

Commissioner Poul Nielson visited Kabul on 4/5 December where he met with local officials, UN and Red Cross representatives and staff of agencies implementing ECHO-funded projects. Mr Nielson commented, "On this visit, I have seen the other Afghanistan. Not the Afghanistan of warlords and tribal extremism, but the one of the anonymous heroes of peace and compassion. These people have done fantastic work in difficult circumstances. They are an asset to Afghanistan and an important resource for the future of this country."

He visited four projects:

  • Aschiana Children's Centre 1 (Terre des Hommes - TDH) which provides basic schooling (including mine awareness), craftwork, medical support and daily meals for Kabul street children. TDH runs five such centres in Kabul (4 ECHO-funded) catering for 1334 children. The centres continued to operate throughout the recent crisis and are now taking girls again.

  • A men's food for work project (UN Habitat) involving repairs to road, culverts and drains in Kabul city.

  • A women's food for work project (Medair) involving home-based quilt production by vulnerable women. The start of the third phase of this project was interrupted because of the crisis and this has now been relaunched.

  • Bomb-disposal and de-mining operations (Danish Demining Group and Halo Trust) following the recent allied air bombardments and years of civil war.

ECHO staff have also visited Kabul to arrange for the reopening of an office in the city. Plans for this are now well-advanced The operation will be located in the old ECHO office which was closed in 1998.

ECHO has redeployed two experts from other regions to strengthen the existing complement of two experts currently based in Islamabad and has also sent an official from Brussels to Kabul on a medium-term mission to supervise the enlarged operation.

    Breakdown of ECHO funding decisions for Afghan populations for 2001 (updated 17 December)


AmountMain activities supported/target populations
Before 11 Sept.€23.400m
2 March€2.585mWater/sanitation programmes and relief items for Afghan refugees in Pakistan (Jalozai and Shamshatoo camps in Peshawar)

Medico-nutritional programmes and non-food items for internally displaced people (IDPs) in the centre and west of Afghanistan (Herat)

3 May

(Global Plan)

€13.000mDrought mitigation programmes including food distribution, well-deepening and rehabilitation of irrigation systems for resident populations (mainly those affected by drought in the north, east and centre of the country.

Medico-nutritional support, food and non-food items for IDPs in areas around Mazar-I-Sharif, Herat and Kandahar.

Programmes dealing with mine-clearance, handicapped people and street children in Kabul.

8 August€7.815mFurther support for drought mitigation projects listed above following a deterioration of the situation.

After 11 Sept.

27 September€4.000mSupport to UNHCR,WFP and ICRC, anticipating population movements, for:

- Pre-positioning of stocks

- Deployment of emergency teams

- Logistical support for WFP

9 October€1.500mSupport to ICRC for hospitals and health posts around the country in anticipation of new casualties from fighting and minefield accidents.
16 November€15.000mFood distribution, medico-nutritional assistance, medical kits, winter needs items and other essential non-food items for resident populations and IDPs (focusing on drought-affected provinces) and for refugees.

Support for the UNHCR operation in Pakistan and UN coordination

7 December€8.500mMine clearance (including training), assistance to IDPs and returnees, food distribution, logistics (lorries and air transport), reopening of an ECHO office in Kabul.
In preparation+/- 2.500m
+/- 2.500mSupport for Strategic Monitoring Unit (SMU), ACBAR (NGO coordination) and data collection/mapping.

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