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Peru and Paraguay hit by extreme weather conditions; Commission grants aid of EUR 3 million

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The European Commission has taken two decisions on the supply of humanitarian aid to combat the effects of the cold weather in Peru and the drought and forest fires in Paraguay. The two grants of EUR 1.5 million each will provide assistance for around 60 000 people in Peru and 40 000 in Paraguay, all among the most vulnerable. The funds are administered by the Commission's humanitarian aid office (ECHO), under the responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel.

"These two countries are accustomed to extreme weather conditions. However, we cannot escape the fact that the associated problems are growing in scale and depriving the local people of any hope of a better existence. Most donors in Peru have shifted the focus of their humanitarian funding from the cold weather to the terrible consequences of the earthquake. In Paraguay, donors have been concerned principally with putting out the fires rather than helping the victims. In both cases, the Commission is stepping in to meet the needs of those who have suffered, seeking to finance projects that have a disaster-preparedness dimension. Let us do what we can to stop history simply repeating itself", said Louis Michel.

Peru

Winter in Peru this year has seen temperatures fall to their lowest levels for the last 30 years. The departments hardest hit are at altitudes of over 2500 metres, in the central and southern Andean region, with more than 700 000 people affected. There was a shift in the focus of aid following the August earthquake, leaving the victims of the cold helpless. The Commission is therefore providing assistance to 60 000 of those hardest hit in the four departments facing serious food shortages: Apurimac, Ayacucho, Huancavelica and Puno. The EUR 1.5 million will be used to supply emergency food aid and aid to restore people's livelihoods, to distribute kitchen utensils and kits, and to engage in disaster-preparedness activities.

Paraguay

The regular drought in the region of Chaco and, since April, in the eastern part of the country (Centre and North East) has exacerbated the forest fires that broke out in August and went totally out of control on 7 September. On a million hectares of land, forests and crops have been ruined, houses destroyed, inhabitants evacuated and cattle and wildlife decimated. It is estimated that nearly 200 000 people have been directly affected by this disaster. The EUR 1.5 million provided will assist 40 000 of the hardest hit, with priority going to the five 5 departments of Amambay, Canindeyú, Concepción, Presidente Hayes and San Pedro. The money will be used to supply emergency food aid, drinking water, materials for emergency shelters and agricultural aid to restore people's livelihoods, to distribute hygiene kits, blankets and clothing, and to engage in natural disaster restore people's preparedness activities.

For more information on Commission humanitarian aid:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index=5Fen.htm