Angola: EC closes humanitarian aid office

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 20 June (IRIN) - The European Commission (EC) will close its humanitarian aid coordination office in Angola at the end of June, as the need for emergency interventions has abated, a senior official told IRIN.

With the closure of the office of the European Commission's Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), which has operated in Angola since the end of civil war in 1992, the EC would shift its focus to supporting projects related to transition and long-term development, said ECHO head Maria Olsen.

"Until recently, due to the long-running conflict in Angola, humanitarian interventions represented the bulk of activities financed and implemented by the international community," she noted.

In the three years since the end of the conflict, ECHO's main objective has been to help normalise the situation in the country by facilitating the return and resettlement of vulnerable war-affected populations, including Angolan refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia and Zambia, said Olsen. "In the 18 months after the ceasefire, for example, an estimated 3.8 million people moved within or back to Angola".

ECHO has committed more than US $240 million since 1992, supporting a total of 429 interventions that have provided primary healthcare, nutrition, water and sanitation, emergency nonfood items, the coordination of humanitarian assistance and access to humanitarian services.

More recently ECHO made available over $2 million to tackle the Marburg fever epidemic that has killed more than 360 people in the north of the country.

"Though stabilised, ECHO is aware that the humanitarian situation of the most vulnerable population groups in Angola remains fragile," Olsen said, adding that the organisation would continue to "closely monitor the situation from its office in Harare, Zimbabwe".


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