Brussels, 26 July 2005 - The European Commission has adopted two decisions worth a total of €8.5 million to help meet humanitarian needs in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The funds are managed by the Commission's humanitarian aid department (ECHO), which comes under the responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel.
In Ethiopia, there is growing evidence of a deteriorating humanitarian situation with famine threatened. More than half the population is malnourished and only 50% of Ethiopians have access to safe drinking water.
€4.5 million has been allocated to help vulnerable people threatened by the prolonged drought and internal conflict. This will cover the provision of medical and nutritional assistance, basic water supplies, livestock support, and protection of civilians. Between 500,000 and one million people will directly benefit from actions funded under this decision.
In addition to this humanitarian aid, the Commission is providing significant support to Ethiopia in the area of food aid/security. €20 million has been granted to the World Food Programme for Ethiopia in 2005, in addition to substantial allocations to the Ethiopian government (€30 million over 2 years) and to NGOs (€10 million for 2005). €60 million will also be made available from the European Development Fund for the safety net programme, which aims to tackle chronic food insecurity.
Eritrea, after five years of poor rains, also faces critical humanitarian needs. Water shortages and the poor quality of the water that is available have had a negative impact on communities that are already highly vulnerable. The nutritional status of the population is badly affected by livestock losses. Children, who rely heavily on milk for nourishment, are particularly badly hit. In rural areas, it is reported that almost 40% of children and women are malnourished.
ECHO's intervention addresses immediate needs in the water, nutrition, health and livestock sectors, as well as in area of protection. The aid will benefit up to 500,000 vulnerable rural dwellers, with a particular focus on female-headed households.