Brussels, 8 June 2007 - The European Commission has allocated €4 million in emergency relief to help up to 350,000 internally displaced people and host communities in Somalia. The Commission's humanitarian aid covers shelter, food aid, water and medical support - the latter in particular with regard to a major cholera outbreak in South Somalia with an estimated 17,000 cases so far. The Commission's assistance also covers logistical support for aid agencies to deliver and transport supplies in Somalia. All funds are channelled through the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO). Since 2004, the Commission has provided humanitarian aid to vulnerable people in Somalia for a total of €32.5 million, including today's allocation. Additional humanitarian aid worth €2 million is provided for Somali refugees in Kenya (see IP/06/1887). The Commission is also preparing a global humanitarian aid plan for Somalia and additional funds for food aid for adoption later this year.
On top of the civil turmoil and fighting which has caused massive population displacements, human suffering and loss of livelihoods, Somalia experienced at the same time its worst drought, its worst floods and its worst outbreak of Rift Valley fever in a decade. The coping mechanisms of the population are exhausted accordingly.
Olli Rehn, acting Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, appealed to all Somali parties "to respect unequivocally their obligations under international humanitarian law and to allow for humanitarian access to alleviate the suffering of civilians". He stressed that "there is no military way-out of the current conflict and only an inclusive political settlement can put an end to the cycle of violence which has devastated the country over the last 16 years. All parties must exercise maximum restraint and commit to a ceasefire, which remains a pre-condition for an effective National Reconciliation Congress due to start in mid-June".
The EU also contributes to build up the capacities of the African Union Peace keeping Force AMISOM. The Commission has released €15 million from the Africa Peace Facility to support the deployment of this peace force. The Commission is also the biggest provider of development and humanitarian assistance to Somalia: A total of 25 M€ has been allocated in 2007 to respond to the vital humanitarian needs of the population.
Commission-funded humanitarian aid projects are implemented by non-governmental relief organisations, specialised UN agencies and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement. ECHO's regional support office in Nairobi closely follows developments in the humanitarian situation in Somalia and plays an active role in the local coordination of relief efforts. It also monitors the use of the Commission's relief funds.
In May 2006, the Commission decided to provide €70 million for a Somalia recovery programme to help making basic social services available to the poorest and most vulnerable people and to reduce food insecurity (see IP/06/659). The money comes from the 9th European Development Fund.
The European Commission is also part of the International Somalia Contact Group which aims to contribute to peace and stabilisation in Somalia.