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Brussels, 24 February 2000

Laos: Commission approves 1.14 million Euro in aid for relocated villagers

The European Commission has made available aid worth 1.14 million Euro for Laotian villagers whose relocation has exposed them to unexpected health hazards. The aid, channelled via the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO), will enable European non-governmental organisations to improve the availability of food, water/sanitation and healthcare pending more permanent solutions to the situation.

A policy of displacement designed to create new development areas has meant moving villagers from highlands to lowlands. However, an unfortunate consequence of this has been that the displaced people have been moved to unfamiliar terrain where they have been exposed to diseases to which they lack resistance. They have also been unable to provide enough food for their communities through farming.

This funding is intended to improve their access to clean water and sanitation facilities, as well as to basic health care. It should also help to meet basic food needs as a stepping stone for a longer-term programme to ensure self-sufficiency and development.

ECHO's partners in this programme over the next nine to ten months are Cooperazione e Sviluppo (Italy), Care International, Action Nord Sud (France). About 50,000.people are expected to benefit from the aid.

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