Brussels, 24 November 2003 - The European Commission has recently pledged to provide humanitarian aid for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (€4.5 million), Georgia (€2.2 million), Timor Leste (€2 million), China (€2 million) and Pakistan (€1 million). The funds are managed by the Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) under the responsibility of Commissioner Poul Nielson. Projects will be implemented by humanitarian agencies operating in the target regions.
Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) €4.5 million
Funding will be used to improve the water and sanitation provision in the DPRK. The overall health and sanitation system in the DPRK is extremely precarious. Utilities are old and poorly maintained, and consequently there is a significant risk of serious outbreaks of water-borne disease. Poor water and sanitation is the leading cause of rising infant mortality in the DPRK.
Building on the work of ECHO's 2002 water and sanitation programme, the latest decision will bring clean water to additional villages and particularly aims to improve the situation for children. 300,000 people are expected to benefit from the intervention.
Georgia €2.2 million
Georgia faces considerable and forgotten humanitarian needs. The conflict that broke out in 1992 between Georgia and Abkhazia led to the displacement of over 250,000 people and caused serious economic disruption.
Today Abkhazia is a devastated region. Social and economic infrastructures have been severely disrupted and in the absence of any political solution to the conflict, the situation is unlikely to improve. In Georgia, tens of thousands people remain displaced, mainly in the West of the country where they place a significant burden on local infrastructures. International support has gradually declined and very few international organisations remain active in the region. Consequently, the basic needs of vulnerable populations are not being met.
ECHO funding will be used to cover the most basic food needs of the most vulnerable segments of the population particularly the elderly or destitute displaced persons or residents, in Abkhazia and the rest of Western Georgia.
Timor-Leste €2 million
Emergency aid will be provided for the population of Timor-Leste affected by drought and food shortage.
In 1999 the economic infrastructure of Timor-Leste was devastated by Indonesian troops and anti-independence militias, and 260,000 people fled west. Although significant reconstruction work has been undertaken the country still faces challenges. Since 2002, floods and drought in the highlands of the Western region of Timor-Leste led to food shortages and malnutrition. An estimated 110,000 people will require emergency food aid during the November 2003 to March 2004 winter period.
ECHO funding will be used to enable the affected families of Timor-Leste meet their most immediate food needs.
China - €2 million
Torrential rain and severe flooding in June 2003 left millions of people without shelter and caused massive crop destruction. In some regions over 400ml of rain fell over just two days forcing the displacement of more than 4.5 million people. Vulnerable populations in the region need urgent humanitarian assistance. 4.5 million people are currently without shelter and to date food distribution has been insufficient and uneven.
ECHO funding will help to meet the essential needs of the most vulnerable populations and will be primarily used to provide emergency food aid.
Pakistan €1 million
Severe flooding in late July and early August has devastated communities in South Pakistan. According to government statistics, in the worst hit province of Sindh, floods damaged almost three and a half thousand villages, caused 189 deaths, and have affected the lives of a total of 860,000 people in some way. Widespread devastation of crops and livestock means that the threat of prolonged malnutrition continues to be a severe concern.
While immediate humanitarian needs have largely been met, there is an urgent demand for ongoing humanitarian assistance. ECHO funding will be used to help meet the essential requirements of vulnerable communities and to regenerate rural livelihoods.