Angola + 1 more

ECHO: Commissioner Nielson to visit Zambia, Angola & South Africa, 23-29 Jan 2003

Brussels, 20 January 2003 - Mr Poul Nielson, European Commissioner for Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid, will visit Southern Africa from 23 to 29 January 2003. Mr Nielson's visit to Zambia, Angola and South Africa will include the signing of co-operation strategies, bilateral talks with government members and visits to Commission funded programmes. In Zambia notably, Mr Nielson will take stock of the EU response to the food crisis and re-iterate solidarity with those in need. In Angola, Mr Nielson will sign the EU/Angola Co-operation Strategy for the coming 5 years which is worth €146 million, and announce further funding worth €8 million for humanitarian operations in 2003. Also in Angola, Mr Nielson will give a message of strong support for the country's post-conflict development and peace process. At the end of his visit, Commissioner Nielson will pay a short stopover visit to South Africa where he will sign the new EU-South Africa three-year Indicative Programme worth €386 million.

Commissioner Nielson's schedule begins in Zambia (23 to 24 January) where he will meet the President Levy Mwanawasa and the Ministers of Finances and Agriculture, Hon Emmanuel Kasonde and Hon Mundia Sikatana. Discussions will focus on the food situation in the country and other questions related to EU-Zambia bilateral co-operation. Mr Nielson will also visit projects funded by the EU designed not only to bring short term relief to those in need of food but also those designed to improve longer-term food security in the country. He will stress the importance of a coherent food security policy as the best way out of a structural food deficit situation. In response to the current crisis in Zambia, the Commission has contributed 45,090 metric tonnes of maize worth €20 million and €3.1 million worth of seeds and fertilisers. In addition, the Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) support for drought affected populations with emergency food aid and non-food items amounts to €12 million bringing the total EC contribution to Zambia's food crisis to €35.1 million.

Mr Nielson will then visit Angola from 25 to 28 January, where he will sign the EU/Angola Country Strategy Paper and National Indicative Programme (2002-2007). The strategy provides a comprehensive framework for EU/Angolan co-operation, encompassing the link between relief, rehabilitation and development. The strategy's financial resources from the 9th European Development Fund amount to €146 million. The Commissioner will also announce funding of €8 million to continue humanitarian aid operations in 2003. In Luanda, Mr Nielson will meet the Head of State, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and other members of the government, the opposition, NGO's and civil society. Topics of discussion will include the humanitarian situation, the development of the peace process and regional matters. Field visits to EU funded development and humanitarian projects in Huambo and Huila are also foreseen so the Commission can gain a first-hand overview of the humanitarian situation and recent developments on the ground.

Since Angola signed the 3rd Lomé Convention in 1985, the European Community's financial commitments in the framework of EU/Angolan co-operation has amounted to approximately €830 million, including more than €135 million since 1993 for humanitarian aid. In response to the signing of the peace agreement between the Angolan government and UNITA in April 2002, the Commission put together a €125 million Plan of Action to address the most pressing concerns at that stage. As part of the Plan of Action, a €30 million Programme for Emergency Support to the Peace Process was drawn up, targeting emergency medical assistance, the distribution of seeds and tools, food aid (including to former UNITA soldiers and their families) and humanitarian de-mining. Its implementation is well under way.

In Pretoria, South Africa on January 29th, Commissioner Nielson will sign the new "Multi-annual indicative programme" which provides for €386 million in support to South Africa for the years 2003-2005. The programme focuses on equitable access to basic social services, on equitable economic growth, on deepening democracy and on regional co-operation and integration. Mr Nielson will also meet with senior government Ministers.