By decision taken by Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala on 15 March, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has granted its humanitarian assistance funds for the first part of the year, totalling EUR 39.8 million, to people suffering from the world’s crises. This time, Finland targets humanitarian assistance to Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Earlier this year, EUR 3.5 million was already granted for the acute needs of the Syrian crisis. In addition, during the first months of the year, a total of EUR 23 million were paid as general assistance to humanitarian aid organisations.
The purpose of humanitarian assistance is to save human lives and alleviate human suffering in crisis situations. The aid is provided on the basis of need. Each year, the UN draws up and publishes a joint appeal, which includes country-specific appeals, prioritised on the basis of need. The appeal for this year amounts to USD 8.5 billion. It concerns 16 countries, a majority of which are located in Africa.
In Africa, the needs are the greatest, for example, in the Sahel region, in western Africa. The armed conflict has created new humanitarian challenges in Mali and the neighbouring countries serving as recipients of refugees from Mali. However, the food security situation improved slightly last year, but still more than 10 million people are estimated to suffer from lack of food security in the region. A total of EUR 8,465 million will be targeted at the area.
In the Horn of Africa, the food security situation has improved since the famine of 2011, but the situation remains serious. In Somalia, the security situation has improved due to political changes, which has made the relief work somewhat easier. The emergency appeal for Somalia totals USD 1.3 billion, being the largest of the UN appeals. The refugee situation in the Horn of Africa region is massive. A total of EUR 9 million will be targeted at the area.
In the Great Lakes Region in Africa, the conflicts in the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo have weakened the humanitarian situation in the entire region. Both the internally displaced persons and those stranded in the middle of the conflict are in need of assistance, of which the situation of children is a special concern. A total of EUR 6,425 million will be targeted at the area.
In addition, the humanitarian situation of Sudan and South Sudan is still serious and complicated. The disputes between the countries and the internal ones, large numbers of displaced persons, a weak food security situation, and underdeveloped basic services and infrastructure all contribute to the massive humanitarian needs of the countries. A total of EUR 6.46 million will be channelled to the countries.
In the Middle East, humanitarian needs are found in Syria and the neighbouring countries receiving refugees from Syria. At the beginning of March, the number of Syrian refugees totalled more than a million. Therefore, Finland will now grant additional assistance to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), amounting to one million euro. In the Middle East, a total of EUR 3.31 million of assistance will also be targeted at the occupied Palestinian territories and EUR 2.5 million at Yemen with great humanitarian need.
In Asia, the needs are primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which both have large numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons. Pakistan is still recovering from the massive floods in recent years. EUR 2 million will be granted to Afghanistan and EUR 1 million to Pakistan. In addition, the situation of the Rakhine State in Myanmar is not only politically difficult, but also very demanding in humanitarian terms. EUR 600,000 will be granted for the operation of the Finnish Red Cross and the international Red Cross Movement in Myanmar.
The Finnish assistance will be channelled through the UN agencies, the Finnish Red Cross and the International Red Cross Movement, FinnChurchAid and Fida International. Among the UN agencies, the recipients are UNHCR (EUR 16.5 million), WFP (EUR 8 million), UNICEF (EUR 6 million), WHO (EUR 4 million) and FAO (EUR 750,000).
Additional information: Anna Gebremedhin, Head of Unit for Humanitarian Assistance, tel. +358 40 583 0149