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Finland distributed 9.3 million euros in humanitarian assistance

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The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has granted 9.3 million euros in humanitarian assistance, in response to the needs caused by the world's greatest humanitarian crises. The decision made by Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paavo Väyrynen supplements the decision to grant 52.2 million euros, made in spring 2008.

The aid focuses on long-term crises, most of which are located in Africa. The situation is especially serious in Somalia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where insecurity, hunger and the weak operational capacity of the state cause widespread human suffering. In Southern Africa, the prolonged political crisis in Zimbabwe sharpens needs for humanitarian assistance. The support now granted for the needs of humanitarian assistance in Africa totals 7.4 million euros.

The food crisis has increased hunger in regions that had already been vulnerable. In the Horn of Africa and particularly in Ethiopia, drought has further exacerbated the situation; so, too, in the Central African Republic. The latter is one of the forgotten crises that has attracted little attention internationally. In Asia, the food supply of citizens in Myanmar remains worrisome, as last spring Tropical Cyclone Nargis left most of the country's rice fields unfit for cultivation. The sum of 4.6 million euros was granted for the World Food Programme, the UN food agency, making it the organisation receiving the largest amount in assistance.

Political instability, military confrontations and general insecurity weaken the possibilities of the civilian population to be self-sufficient and increase needs for humanitarian assistance, but the weak security situation also makes it difficult to provide assistance. The International Committee of the Red Cross, the ICRC, is widely recognised in conflict areas as a neutral and independent provider of assistance, which strengthens its possibilities to operate. The support of 2.8 million euros granted to the organisation will be channelled to Iraq and Columbia alongside Somalia and Sudan.

The Finnish channels for assistance are the Finnish Red Cross, FinnChurchAid and Fida International.

Additional information: Counsellor Timo Karmakallio, Unit for Humanitarian Assistance, mobile tel. +358 40 727 5487