Brussels, 4 February 2003 - In response to the humanitarian crisis affecting the Horn of Africa the European Commission (EC) has allocated another €5 million for emergency food aid operations in Ethiopia. The delivery will be carried out by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). This additional allocation has been mobilised to enable ICRC to purchase and distribute 15,750 tonnes of essential food commodities which will benefit more than 250,000 vulnerable people in regions affected by drought.
The new allocation of €5 million will enable the ICRC to purchase and distribute 15,750 tonnes of essential food commodities (maize, beans, vegetable oil and wheat) to vulnerable families in the north-eastern region of Ethiopia (Afar and Somali region), where the ICRC, with the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS), is already distributing food to some 100,000 pastoralists and farmers affected by drought and local conflicts. The food will also go to the lowland regions of Oromia (Hararghe), the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People's Regional State and Tigray. In these regions the ICRC is launching a preventive emergency action to provide food and seeds to an additional 700,000 people, most of them being subsistence farmers who have suffered up to 90% crop failure and are exposed to potential security threats.
This contribution to the ICRC will bring the total Commission emergency aid response to the present crisis in Ethiopia to €102 million, or the equivalent to 275 000 metric tonnes of food for 2003 alone. Bilaterally, Member States are providing additional food and humanitarian aid worth €46 million, thus bringing the total EU response to €148 million.
In response to the Ethiopian Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) appeal for emergency requirements in 2003, the Commission already allocated in 2002 a €€70 million emergency food aid assistance programme to Ethiopia which is the equivalent to about 260,000 metric tons (Mt) of cereals (see IP/02/1822 of 9 December 2002). This came in addition to the food aid assistance already provided for the needs of the last quarter of 2002 (€23 million 97,000 Mt) and non-food humanitarian aid worth €4 million allocated in November 2002 by the European Office for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO).
The EU emergency operations are focusing on food aid and other humanitarian assistance. The EC also provides financial assistance to support long-term food security by reducing vulnerability and increasing crisis preparedness. The EC together with the EU Member States has also enhanced its policy dialogue with the Government of Ethiopia to tackle structural food security problems in the long term.
ICRC activities, carried out jointly with the ERCS, primarily involve:
- distributing food to ensure that people have enough to eat and the strength to work their land and are not forced to sell their remaining belongings to survive (this component of the programme is the one supported by the present EC allocation);
- providing seeds for the short 2003 rainy season (February to May);
- selecting and training community health workers;
- providing water to people.