Brussels, 17 February 2003 - The European Commission has adopted a new aid package to provide continuing humanitarian support for vulnerable populations in Angola. €8 million will be channelled by the Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) through partner organisations and international agencies operating in the country. Commenting on the decision, Poul Nielson, the Commissioner responsible for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said: "As I saw for myself on my recent visit, the peace process in Angola has opened a window of opportunity for reconstruction and reconciliation. Although the fighting has ended, it is clear that the Commission will continue to have a humanitarian role in Angola for some time to come. In 2003, ECHO will focus its efforts on meeting the needs of people in newly accessible areas, and of returning internally displaced populations and refugees".
After almost forty years of conflict the possibility for lasting peace has finally come to Angola. The peace process that began in April 2002 continues apace. The challenge is now reconstruction, rehabilitation and the return of displaced people. Although the end of the war paves the way for displaced people to return to their places of origin, the humanitarian crisis in Angola will remain very serious at least until the returnees are able to harvest their first crops.
This latest funding decision gives priority to areas of the country which have become newly accessible since April last year, and other areas which are still to be opened up, particularly the eastern provinces of Angola. The focus will be mainly on emergency health and nutrition, emergency relief, protection and logistics. For the first time, ECHO will include emergency HIV/AIDS awareness activities in all interventions.
In the area of health and nutrition, ECHO will provide support through primary health facilities, giving special attention to maternal and child health. The reduction of mortality due to malnutrition will be tackled through therapeutic and supplementary feeding programmes. ECHO will continue to support vaccination programmes, so as to help reduce the prevalence of common diseases and epidemics.
In terms of emergency relief, ECHO will continue to provide essential non-food items, such as blankets, kitchen kits and tarpaulin sheets for shelter. ECHO will also help provide legal protection for vulnerable people (birth registration, family tracing and reunification), especially children, women and returning refugees. It will also fund the World Food Programmes' logistics operation (air and road transport for food, seeds and tools, non-food items and humanitarian personnel).
Since 1993, the Commission has provided more than €143 million in humanitarian aid for victims of the Angolan crisis.