Brussels, 3 April 2003 - The European Commission has adopted a €10 million aid package to help meet essential humanitarian needs in Tajikistan over the next 12 months. The funds, provided through the Humanitarian Aid Office, ECHO, which comes under the responsibility of Commissioner Poul Nielson, will be used for food, water, medicine and sanitation. International organisations and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) will implement the programmes. The Commission has allocated over €145 million for humanitarian operations in Tajikistan since 1992.
Commenting on this latest decision, Mr Nielson said, "The accumulated effects of drought, civil war and economic collapse in Tajikistan continue to attract relatively little media attention and interest from donors. ECHO's mandate is not to follow the TV camera but to help the most vulnerable wherever they are."
Tajikistan faces a continuing humanitarian crisis. Years of economic decline, civil war (1992-1997) and drought (1999-2001) still prevent much of the 6.3 million population from meeting their basic needs. 83% of the population live under the poverty line in a country considered the third poorest in the world outside of Africa. The country is still experiencing an exceptional food emergency. More than 30% of children under five are suffering from chronic malnutrition. Most of the population lack access to safe drinking water. There are regular outbreaks of infectious diseases.
The €10 million will target the most vulnerable groups, including old people, children and people with disabilities. Around 80,000 people will receive food aid or stand to benefit from household food security projects. Access to water and sanitation facilities will be improved for over 250,000 people. Life-saving drugs will be provided to health facilities nation-wide.