Brussels, 10 January 2003 - The European Commission has recently taken humanitarian decisions concerning Angolan refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo (€1.1 million), Mexico (€1 million), Yemen (€1.6 million) and Sudan (€1 million). The assistance is channelled through the Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), which comes under the authority of Commissioner Poul Nielson.
Angolan refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo - €1.1 million
The funding under this decision is to support a United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) protection, care and maintenance programme for around 60,000 Angolan refugees living in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). During Angola's 27-year long civil war, there was a regular flow of refugees across the border, particularly to the provinces of Bas Congo and Bandundu in southern DRC. Following the Angolan peace agreement that was signed in April 2002, most of the refugees have indicated their desire to return home. The UNHCR programme covers a series of actions - primary health care and the provision of clean water, sanitation and food distribution - until their repatriation, scheduled for mid-2003.
Mexico - €1 million
Following the uprising in 1994, a large number of people in the Chiapas region of Mexico are still displaced. A significant proportion of those who have returned home also have continuing urgent nutritional and health needs. Many communities have little or no running water and preventable illnesses are widespread.
The ECHO funding is being used to provide food rations, medical and communities services to approximately 30,000 vulnerable people in Chiapas. The decision also has a component for training in sustainable farming methods.
Yemen - €1.59 million
Yemen is still recovering slowly from the civil war, which ended in 1994. It is a mainly rural society with poor economic and social conditions and certain regions are very vulnerable to bad weather. Since 1998, ECHO's strategy in this 'forgotten crisis' has been to target the most isolated areas.
Part of the funding has been earmarked to improve primary health care facilities and provide medicines, benefiting around 110,000 people. There is also a component in the decision for improving access to clean water for around 24,500 people.
Sudan - €1 million
Sudan, the largest country in Africa, has been in a state of civil war for several decades. The enormous human cost of the conflict includes some two million deaths, while the country has an estimated four million internally displaced people (IDP). The ceasefire signed in October 2002 offers some hope for peace, although it does not cover the entire country. In some areas, notably Kassala, fighting has recently intensified.
This decision targets two groups of vulnerable populations. In the Kassala region, emergency assistance (plastic sheeting, blankets, water storage equipment and health structures) is being provided to newly-arrived IDPs. In areas that are newly accessible following the cease-fire, ECHO funds will be used to purchase resettlement kits with a particular emphasis on shelter items. A mass vaccination campaign against measles and other health actions are also being supported.