According to a press release issued here on Tuesday by the local European Union office, ECHO which allocated 6.9 million euro (Rs421 million) for humanitarian projects in 2002, will further support humanitarian activities in Pakistan. The ECHO activities focused mainly in providing assistance to communities suffering from drought in Balochistan and to Afghan refugees living in camps in Balochistan and the NWFP provinces.
For the year 2003, it is expected that assistance to those affected by the drought and to Afghan refugees as well as those suffering from other natural disasters will remain the major areas of intervention.
European Community's Humanitarian Aid Office is responsible for providing humanitarian assistance to third world countries through which the European Commission expresses the concrete solidarity of the European Union with those affected by conflicts or disasters. ECHO is active in 50 countries with a budget of 442.5 million euro for 2003.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the most important partner of ECHO in Pakistan. With UNHCR partnership, ECHO facilitated the supply of drinking water to the new refugee camps along the border in Pakistan. Activities related to basic health care, besides tuberculosis treatment and ensuring supply of coal to the poor during winter was also taken care by funds provided by ECHO.
Other partners of ECHO in 2002 were Oxfam UK, ACF France, Mercy Corps Scotland, MSF Holland, COOPI Italy, Handicap International Belgium and Islamic Relief United Kingdom.
ECHO is closely coordinating its funding strategy with other EC funding instruments such as the EC Aid to Uprooted People budget line, that covers secondary needs of Afghan refugees in Pakistan; further coordination is expected with other European Commission Aid lines on drought to address the long-term aspect of this problem.
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