The European Union (EU) says it is committed to assisting vulnerable people in countries in the Sahel and Central Africa with a humanitarian aid of 210 million euros in 2021.
The EU made this known in a statement issued on Tuesday in Abuja by Modestus Chukwulaka, the spokesman for the EU Delegation to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
According to the EU, the funding which will be allocated to humanitarian projects in eight beneficiary countries, is a reaffirmation of its solidarity with Africa and the beneficiary countries.
The eight countries to benefit from the aid are Burkina Faso (24.3 million euros), Cameroon (17.5 million euros), the Central African Republic (21.5 million euros), Chad (35.5 million euros) Mali (31.9 million euros), Mauritania (10 million euros), Niger (32.3 million euros) and Nigeria (37 million euros).
“The life of many in the Sahel and Central Africa countries continues to be disrupted by conflict, poverty, climatic changes, recurrent food crises, or a combination of all.
“It is estimated that there are more than 35 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in the eight priority countries covered by the EU’s 2021 Humanitarian Implementation Plan for West and Central Africa.
“The major humanitarian needs relate to shelter, emergency food aid, access to health care and clean water, treatment for malnourished children, and protection for the vulnerable,” it said.
The statement continued: “Against this backdrop, the coronavirus pandemic is posing additional challenges, both concerning the pressure on already fragile health systems and also the effects of the containment measures on vulnerable people’s access to food and livelihoods.
“At the same time, humanitarian actors are facing the combined challenges of delivering humanitarian assistance in an increasingly insecure context, where access is further restricted due to the pandemic.”
The statement noted that worsening instability and armed conflicts, together with the COVID-19 pandemic and natural hazards, were having a devastating impact in the Sahel and countries in Central Africa.
It quoted the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, as saying, “The EU remains committed to help reduce suffering among people in need in the region.
“The EU’s humanitarian funding in the Sahel and Central African countries is targeted to provide life-saving assistance to the people affected by conflict and to the communities hosting people who had to flee.
“While humanitarian aid is there to bring emergency relief, longer-lasting improvements can only be brought about through the political will of national governments and good governance.”
It further said the humanitarian aid was to also provide protection to vulnerable people and support the respect of International Humanitarian Law and the humanitarian principles.
The aim of the aid, it said, was to support measures to address food crises and severe acute malnutrition among children under five in the subregion.
The assistance, it said, also aimed to enhance the immediate response in terms of basic services to most vulnerable population, especially concerning healthcare for all or education for children caught up in humanitarian crises.
The EU intervention also aimed to strengthen fragile communities’ preparedness for crises, such as mass displacements of people, or recurrent food or climate-related crises, the statement added.
“This assistance is part of the wider EU support provided to the region, including through the ́Team Europe ́ contributions to the Coronavirus Global Response.
“It is also part of EU’s support to the vaccine distribution effort through the COVAX Facility, and other actions providing longer-term support to strengthen fragile health systems,” the statement further said.
It recalled that, as part of the EU’s Coronavirus Global Response and its target to make COVID-19 vaccines a global public good, Team Europe had earlier provided 2.2 billion euros to the COVAX Facility.
“The COVAX Facility is supporting the delivery of 1.3 billion doses of vaccines to 92 low and middle-income countries by the end of 2021 and has recently decided that up to 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be made available for use in humanitarian contexts,” it said.
The statement also recalled that in 2020, the EU supported humanitarian interventions in the region with more than 213 million euros.
It added that the European Commission had also provided 100 million euros in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems.
The EU is a leading, long-standing humanitarian donor in the Sahel and Central Africa, one of the world’s poorest and most fragile regions, it said.
’19 million persons benefited’
“More than 19 million people in need benefitted from EU- funded humanitarian operations initiated in 2020 in West and Central Africa.
“These included around 6.3 million people who were provided with food security and livelihood support; more than 3 million people assisted on disaster preparedness and risk reduction; around 2.8 million people offered access to health services; and almost 1.8 million people receiving protection support.
“In order to support longer-term achievements, the EU is working to build effective synergies between humanitarian, development and peace initiatives,” the statement added. (NAN)
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