European Union brings relief to Mongolian herders affected by extreme winter conditions

News and Press Release
Originally published

Ulaanbaatar, February 10th, 2017 – In response to the particularly harsh winter which has struck large parts of Mongolia since November, the European Commission is providing over 115 000 EUR in humanitarian funding to bring immediate relief to the most affected families. The aid will directly benefit 5000 most vulnerable individuals in some of the country’s worst-hit provinces, namely Khuvsgul, Selenge, Uvs and Zavkhan.

This EU funding supports the Mongolian Red Cross Society in delivering much-needed assistance through the provision of first aid kits and unconditional cash grants. The kits enable herders to maintain their physical well-being in particularly challenging conditions, while cash assistance allows beneficiaries to cover other immediate needs triggered by the extreme climatic conditions, following their own priorities. The funding is part of the EU’s overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Vast swathes of Mongolia, particularly in the north, have witnessed an exceptionally cold winter and heavy snow fall over the past few months. The premature severe weather patterns have placed an estimated 157 000 people in 15 out of 21 provinces under high risk of the what is known as the “dzud” climatic phenomenon. The adverse conditions have hampered the capacity of herders to access town centres, where health facilities and other services are located, and threatened the survival of livestock. The Government of Mongolia in late December called for humanitarian assistance from the international community as the situation worsened.

Dzud, characterised by a prolonged summer drought followed by severe winter conditions, is not uncommon in Mongolia. The latest dzud in late 2015 killed more than one million heads of livestock and severely affected thousands of pastoralists whose livelihoods largely depended on animal husbandry. In response, the Commission had provided 420,000 EUR to its humanitarian partners in order to help alleviate the burdens of the most impacted households.


The European Union together with its Member States is the world's leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity towards people in need around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises. The European Commission through its Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) helps over 120 million victims of conflicts and disasters every year. For more information, please visit ECHO's website.

The European Commission has signed a €3 million humanitarian delegation agreement with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). Funds from the DREF are mainly allocated to “small-scale” disasters – those that do not give rise to a formal international appeal.

The Disaster Relief Emergency Fund was established in 1985 and is supported by contributions from donors. Each time a National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society needs immediate financial support to respond to a disaster, it can request funds from the DREF. For small-scale disasters, the IFRC allocates grants from the Fund, which can then be replenished by the donors. The delegation agreement between the IFRC and ECHO enables the latter to replenish the DREF for agreed operations (that fit in with its humanitarian mandate) up to a total of €3 million.

For further information, please contact: Pierre Prakash, Regional Information Officer for Asia and the Pacific, European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO):