Afghanistan: Commission provides a further EUR 11.53 million in humanitarian aid

News and Press Release
Originally published
Brussels, 16 October 2003 - The European Commission has approved an aid package worth €11.53 million to help victims of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. The funding will help vulnerable populations to prepare for harsh winter conditions and to cope with the effects of ongoing drought, as well as assisting people who have been displaced from their homes. The aid is channelled through the Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), which comes under the responsibility of Commissioner Poul Nielson. Commenting on the decision, Mr Nielson said: "We have seen some progress in Afghanistan over the last two years, reflected above all in the huge numbers who have returned home, but there are still major challenges to overcome. In providing vital support to those who are most in need in Afghanistan, the Commission will continue to be guided by the principles of neutrality, impartiality and humanity the jewels in the crown of the humanitarian aid system."

In the north and centre of the country, the emphasis is on enabling vulnerable groups to meet their winter needs through a series for cash for work and income-generating schemes including water and sanitation projects, tree-planting and the production of quilts and children's clothes. In addition, funds are being provided for shelter, primary health care and psycho-social support for street children. €5.57 million has been earmarked for these activities.

In the drought-struck south and west, cash for work schemes are also planned, with a focus on the water/sanitation sector including well-digging, pump installations and water storage. A food security component covers the distribution of seeds and vegetables, and measures to support poultry rearing. €3.7 million is envisaged for these actions.

As regards refugees, internally displaced people and returnees, assistance worth up to €1.76 million will be directed through UNCHR. This covers the provision of shelter, and projects to protect refugee camp residents and vulnerable women. Almost 2.5 million Afghan refugees have returned home since the beginning of 2002 but there are still an estimated 4-6 million living in neighbouring countries, as well as some 300,000 people who continue to be internally displaced inside Afghanistan.

Finally, the decision has a component (€0.5 million) to boost the security of ECHO's NGO partners running projects on the ground. Insecurity poses a significant threat to the implementation of humanitarian projects, particularly in southern Afghanistan, and the focus of this component is on ensuring that partners have access to expert advice and information on security issues.

The latest funding is in addition to €36.2 million allocated in April 2003 for a wide range of humanitarian activities in Afghanistan. ECHO-funded projects are implemented by UN humanitarian agencies, NGO partners and Red Cross/Crescent organisations.