Commission approves series of humanitarian aid decisions worth €10.15 million

Brussels, 16 January 2001 - The European Commission has recently taken a number of decisions, totalling €10.15 million, to fund humanitarian aid in Ethiopia and Eritrea, North Korea, Sri Lanka and India. The assistance is channelled through its Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO).

Ethiopia and Eritrea €7million (two decisions)

The border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea has resulted in large numbers of displaced people, including deportees, on both sides. The recent peace agreement, following on from the ceasefire in July 2000, should lead to an easing of the situation in the longer term but, in the meantime, many people still face an uncertain future after having been forced to leave their homes. The Commission has adopted two decisions aimed at delivering help to these people.

In Ethiopia, €5 million has been allocated for the World Food Programme's continuing food aid operation in the Tigray region. WFP is currently feeding some 312,000 people in Tigray and estimates that there may be a further 30-60,000 deportees still to arrive.

In Eritrea, €2 million has been earmarked to provide displaced people with life-saving relief items, shelter materials, blankets and improved water supply/sanitation facilities. The aid, which targets some 100,000 people displaced during the fighting in May, is being delivered through five of ECHO's partners operating in Eritrea. There are 300,000 IDPs and deportees in the country. Two thirds of these are living in camps with the remainder accommodated in host communities.

Sri Lanka €1.2million

The long running conflict between government forces and the LTTE ("Tamil Tigers") in Sri Lanka has resulted in massive population displacements, notably in the northern Jaffna peninsula. Access by land to many IDPs is extremely difficult. A major component of the European Commission's latest humanitarian aid decision is therefore to provide transport of humanitarian assistance by sea to the peninsula. €700,000 has been allocated through the International Committee of the Red Cross for this scheme. A further €500,000 will be deployed by one of ECHO's NGO partners to rehabilitate water management systems and improve food security for internally displaced people.

India €1.18 million

Rehabilitation work is continuing in the Indian state of Orissa which was struck by a cyclone in October 1999. Despite significant overall progress, a number of communities face continuing food insecurity, exacerbated by the recent drought, and there is evidence of growing malnutrition among children.

The Commission is directing its humanitarian support through two NGO partners with proven experience in the region, targeting vulnerable groups in some of the worst-affected districts. The assistance includes food support (for 30,000 people), a supplementary nutrition programme (covering 3,000 malnourished children and 600 lactating mothers) and wells for drinking water (25,000 beneficiaries). In Bolangir district, which has been hardest hit by the drought, 10,000 families will benefit from a food for work programme focusing on repairs to water infrastructures.

North Korea - €750,000

Almost 33,000 more children will receive warm clothing to help cope with the rigours of winter under the Commission's latest humanitarian aid decision for North Korea. The aid, which is being channelled through three European NGOs working in the country also includes the supply of 8,000 blankets. This assistance is in addition to the €600,000 approved at the end of November 2000 for the supply of winter clothing to North Korean children of kindergarten age.