Brussels, 28 January 2003 - The European Commission has reaffirmed its commitment to the victims of the ongoing crisis in Sudan with the adoption of a Global Plan for 2003 worth €20 million which will help meet humanitarian needs in the largest country in Africa. This decision will enable the Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), through partner organisations working in the field, to provide assistance to the most vulnerable population groups throughout 2003. Commenting on the adoption of the package, Poul Nielson, the European Commissioner in charge of Development and Humanitarian Aid, underlined the importance of "continuing solidarity for those caught up in this long running conflict." He added, "This new Global Plan is a concrete expression of our commitment to help bring relief to people who have suffered enormously and are in desperate need of aid. The European Commission strongly supports the peace process in Sudan, and is committed to facilitating a smooth transition between humanitarian aid and long-term development once stability has been achieved. The Commission will continue to stress and promote the need for full, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to vulnerable populations in Sudan in 2003".
Large numbers of Sudanese people are dependent on emergency relief aid due to almost twenty years of civil war. The long-term conflict has killed more than 2 million people and has forced the displacement of about 4 million more.
ECHO has planned a comprehensive response to the humanitarian crisis in Sudan covering the next 18 months, starting from January this year. If the cease-fire agreement signed between the Government of Sudan and opposing armed factions in October 2002 holds, areas of the country previously inaccessible to aid workers will be opened up and increasingly large return movements of internally displaced people may start to take place.
If the peace process fails and fighting resumes, continued humanitarian aid will be necessary. Regardless of political developments, ECHO will continue covering the whole territory according to needs, and in strict respect of internationally recognised humanitarian principles.
The priority sectors of intervention covered by this global plan will include health and nutrition, water and environmental sanitation, emergency preparedness and response, and household food security. The global plan also covers operational support for humanitarian operations (eg, transport, security) and special mandates (eg civilian protection and tracing). As well as funding emergency live-saving operations, ECHO support is intended to contribute to a gradual process of recovery by giving people the means to become more self-reliant.
From 1993 to 2002 ECHO has allocated over €176 million to Sudan, making it one of the largest donors of humanitarian aid to the country.