The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) on Monday earmarked an additional € 18 million 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.
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.”
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. (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )