Commission adopts five new humanitarian aid decisions worth more than €5.6 million

Brussels, 20 December 2002

The European Commission has recently taken humanitarian decisions concerning Côte d'Ivoire (€1.5 million), Georgia (€1.3 million), Armenia (€0.5 million), Senegal (€0.75 million) and Thailand (€1.565 million). The assistance is channelled through the Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), which comes under the authority of Commissioner Poul Nielson.

Côte d'Ivoire - €1.5 million

An emergency decision has been taken to help people in Côte d'Ivoire affected by the internal conflict. Fighting began on 19 September with an army mutiny in three main cities. Since then, access to food and health services in these areas has become increasingly difficult due to insecurity and restrictions on movement. The objective of this decision is to provide basic health assistance (drugs and medical supplies) as well as supplementary food rations for the most seriously affected populations.

Georgia - €1.3 million

Georgia still faces considerable humanitarian needs. The conflict that broke out in 1992 led to the displacement of 250,000 people and to serious economic disruption.

The autonomous republic of Abkhazia in the north-west suffered widespread devastation and most of the former population left. Tens of thousands of these people are still displaced within Georgia, mainly in the west of the country, placing a heavy additional burden on local services and infrastructures. Of those who remained in Abkhazia, at least 20,000 are living in destitution.

There are few if any economic opportunities for the most vulnerable people and large sections of the population in both Abkhazia and other parts of western Georgia depend on international humanitarian assistance.

The ECHO funding will be used for the distribution of dry foodstuffs, the maintenance of canteens and an income-generation programme. Projects will be targeted especially at the elderly and destitute.

Armenia - €0.5 million

Humanitarian assistance is being provided to help subsistence farmers in Southern Armenia affected by droughts in 2000 and 2001 to regain some self-sufficiency. Many Armenians rely on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods, and they are particularly vulnerable to changing weather patterns.

The support from ECHO will be used to consolidate food security in areas vulnerable to drought through training initiatives and the installation of irrigation systems. Funds will also go towards promoting diversification and sustainable farming activities.

Senegal - €0.75 million

The Commission is helping combat an outbreak of yellow fever in Senegal, which was first reported in September 2002. The funds will be channelled through the World Health Organisation which is undertaking an emergency mass vaccination campaign aimed at halting the spread of the disease. The programme involves the immunisation of an estimated 1.6 million people.

Thailand - refugees from Myanmar - €1.565 million

Since 1984, the number of refugees in Thailand from Myanmar has increased from 10,000 to 144,000 and the figure is still growing. These people, many of whom live in camps just inside the Thai border, are entirely dependent on international assistance for their basic needs.

Over the years, ECHO has funded the establishment of effective health and water/sanitation services in the camps. With the growth in refugee numbers, it is necessary to maintain and develop these infrastructures to prevent epidemics and ensure minimum standards of health care. Any interruption of aid could have devastating consequences for the camp residents.

The funding provided under this decision will be used to provide access to drinking water, hygiene structures and healthcare for around 56,000 people in four camps.