The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) has today earmarked an additional 18 million euros in humanitarian aid to the victims of the conflict in Western Sudan. 10 million will be allocated to address the needs of displaced populations and other civilians inside the Greater Darfur region affected by the conflict. 8 million will be dedicated to the needs of refugees from Darfur who have fled to neighbouring Chad. The international community has recognised the need for immediate and generous support to humanitarian assistance for this crisis. Therefore, the Commission is mobilising these additional humanitarian aid funds in response to the rapidly escalating needs. More than two million people - a third of the entire population of the region - are badly affected by the armed conflict in Darfur. It is estimated that up to 200,000 Sudanese refugees have fled into Chad, and while most of these people are now accommodated in camps, tens of thousands still remain at the border. The crisis in Darfur is now recognised as the most serious humanitarian crisis in the world, yet humanitarian aid is still not ensured unhindered access to everyone in need in Darfur.
Poul Nielson, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian aid, said: "I find it particularly discouraging that in the face of the desperate humanitarian crisis we are currently facing in Darfur, aid workers continue to meet with unnecessary bureaucratic constraints and warring parties are continuing to target aid supplies. These incidents are unacceptable and need to stop immediately. It is about time that the Government of Sudan and the other parties start delivering on their pledges. The international community is running out of patience."
These latest decisions which are in response to recent appeals by the UN, the ICRC and other international aid agencies will be used to provide integrated emergency assistance to the affected populations, including among others:
Protection activities: ECHO will continue to fund measures to improve respect of international humanitarian law (including awareness-raising among warring parties), and care for victims of sexual violence and traumatic events;
Shelter: Provision of plastic sheeting and/or local building materials;
Non-food items: Clothing, blankets, soap, cooking utensils and fuel, water containers, sleeping mats and mosquito nets;
Food aid and food security: Targeted support to the mechanics of general food distribution; provision of seeds and tools to farmers able to cultivate and targeted animal health interventions;
Water: Repair of existing water sources, provision of sanitation in camps and water tankering where necessary;
Health care: Therapeutic and supplementary feeding, disease prevention, and emergency care for victims of the violence (including mobile medical teams).
ECHO started its enhanced response to the current crisis as early as autumn last year with two decisions worth 4 million for victims of the crisis in Western Sudan and across the border in Chad. As the crisis escalated at the beginning of 2004, ECHO decided to step up its response massively with an additional 14 million (10 million for Darfur and 4 million for Chad). The earmarking of an additional 18 million brings total response from ECHO to 36 million. These sums are in addition to ECHO's regular 2004 programme for Sudan worth 20 million.
The Commission has also allocated 12 million (approximately 55 pct. of the costs) from the European Development Funds 250 million Africa Peace Facility in support of the African Union observer mission to Darfur for a period of 12 months. The observer mission will comprise up to 120 observers and a protection force of 270 military personnel.
Commission has also provided food aid and financial support for cease-fire talks. Total funding so far from the Commission to the victims of the Darfur conflict exceeds 88 million.