Humanitarian crises - 18 million beneficiaries of ECHO funding during 2000

IP/01/1256
Brussels, 10 September 2001

Launching the latest Annual Review of the Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), Poul Nielson, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, has highlighted the vital role played by ECHO in delivering relief to victims of humanitarian tragedies. He reported that, during 2000, the €492 million managed by this Commission department had benefited 18 million people in 65 different countries in the world. "This aid is vital" he said, "in saving lives, alleviating misery and giving people a chance to rebuild following natural and man-made catastrophes."

Mr Nielson emphasised that ECHO had a "good record" in ensuring that relief was delivered promptly, referring to its rapid response following the devastating earthquakes in El Salvador and India earlier this year. The new "primary emergency" procedure adopted in early June 2001, which improves response times still further, was successfully put to the test just two weeks later following the earthquake in Southern Peru. The Commissioner also highlighted the Commission's commitment to so-called "forgotten crises" which attract little international media attention. "A decision by ECHO to send humanitarian aid is based solely on needs", he stressed, "and we maintain our commitment to those who are most in need, whether or not the TV cameras are present."

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