The EU is reaffirming its solidarity with vulnerable people in countries in the Sahel and Central Africa through a humanitarian budget of €210 million in 2021. The funding will be allocated to humanitarian projects in the following eight countries: Burkina Faso (€24.3 million), Cameroon (€17.5 million), the Central African Republic (€21.5 million), Chad (€35.5 million) Mali (€31.9 million), Mauritania (€10 million), Niger (€32.3 million) and Nigeria (€37 million).
Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “Worsening instability and armed conflicts, together with the COVID-19 pandemic and natural hazards*, are having a devastating impact in the Sahel and countries in Central Africa. The EU remains committed to help reduce suffering among people in need in the region. While humanitarian aid is there to bring emergency relief, longer-lasting improvements can only be brought about through the political will of national governments and good governance.”*
The EU's humanitarian funding in the Sahel and Central Africa countries is targeted to:
- provide life-saving assistance to the people affected by conflict and to the communities hosting people who had to flee;
- provide protection to vulnerable people and support the respect of International Humanitarian Law and the humanitarian principles;
- support measures to address food crises and severe acute malnutrition among children under 5;
- enhance the immediate response in terms of basic services to most vulnerable population, especially as concerns health care for all or education for children caught up in humanitarian crises; and
- strengthen fragile communities' preparedness for crises, such as mass displacements of people, or recurrent food or climate-related crises.
This assistance is part of the wider EU support provided to the region, including through the ´Team Europe´ contributions to the Coronavirus Global Response, support to the vaccine distribution effort through the COVAX Facility, and other actions providing longer-term support to strengthen fragile health systems.
As part of the EU's Coronavirus Global Response and its target to make COVID-19 vaccines a global public good, Team Europe provided €2.2 billion to the COVAX Facility. The COVAX Facility is supporting the delivery of 1.3 billion doses of vaccines to 92 low and middle-income countries by the end of 2021 and has recently decided that up to 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be made available for use in humanitarian contexts.
In addition, the European Commission is providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems.
The EU is a leading, long-standing humanitarian donor in the Sahel and Central Africa, one of the world's poorest and most fragile regions. In 2020, the EU supported humanitarian interventions in the region with more than €213 million. More than 19 million people in need benefitted from EU-funded humanitarian operations initiated in 2020 in West and Central Africa, including around 6.3 million people who were provided with food security and livelihood support, more than 3 million people assisted on disaster preparedness and risk reduction, around 2.8 million people offered access to health services, and almost 1.8 million people receiving protection support.
In order to support longer-term achievements, the EU is working to build effective synergies between humanitarian, development and peace initiatives. The life of many in the Sahel and Central Africa countries continues to be disrupted by conflict, poverty, climatic changes, recurrent food crises, or a combination of all. It is estimated that there are more than 35 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in the eight priority countries covered by the EU's 2021 Humanitarian Implementation Plan for West and Central Africa. The major humanitarian needs relate to shelter, emergency food aid, access to health care and clean water, treatment for malnourished children, and protection for the vulnerable.
Against this backdrop, the coronavirus pandemic is posing additional challenges, both as concerns the pressure on already fragile health systems but also the effects of the containment measures on vulnerable people's access to food and livelihoods.
At the same time, humanitarian actors are facing the combined challenges of delivering humanitarian assistance in an increasingly insecure context, where access is further restricted due to the pandemic.