The European Commission has just adopted its plan for the allocation of over €661 million in humanitarian aid funding for 2013: the financial backbone of the Commission´s humanitarian aid operational strategy for 2013.
Based on an in-depth assessment of the needs of the most vulnerable populations in the world, the five largest humanitarian operations will be in the Sahel region of West Africa, including further response to the conflict in Mali (€82 million), Sudan and South Sudan (€80 million), the Democratic Republic of Congo (€54 million), Pakistan (€42 million) and Somalia (€40 million). All of these are large-scale, protracted crises resulting from conflict, food shortages or both. Geographically, the largest portion of aid will go to sub-Saharan Africa to which €344.5 million, representing 52% of the Commission´s pre-programmed humanitarian funding, is targeted.
Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, said: “The scope and size of the Commission´s world-wide humanitarian aid decision is a sober reminder of the extent of humanitarian needs around the world. For hundreds of millions of people crises are not rare events but recurrent, seemingly unavoidable hardships. Humanitarian aid is a vital expression of our humanity towards those who suffer. As well as the basic physical needs it fulfils, I have seen how it also serves as a source of hope for people who have lost nearly everything else.
"As in the past, the EU will provide its humanitarian assistance solely based on where people´s needs are most pressing, and independently of any political agenda. Over the past year, I have visited numerous conflict situations round the world – in Mali, in Syria and elsewhere – where aid could only get through to people in need because it is perceived as being neutral and not favouring one side or another. This will continue to be a fundamental principle for the EU in its emergency relief work.”
As in previous years part of the budget is dedicated to forgotten crises – populations that receive little media attention and for whom the Commission is often the only major donor. In 2013 the Commission has identified several populations in nine countries – Algeria, Bangladesh, Central African Republic, Colombia, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Yemen – who meet these criteria. The only new crisis on this year´s list is the one caused by conflict and internal displacement in Pakistan. Other long-enduring forgotten crises include the armed conflict caused by the Lord´s Resistance Army in Central African Republic, the Sahrawi refugees in Algeria, and the victims of conflict in Colombia.
The Commissioner added: "New funding for old crises should not make us complacent in our efforts. Indeed I want 2013 to be a time to innovate, especially in the areas of enhancing the emergency response capacity of the sector, working with new donors, and building resilience to crises among the poorest communities through our nascent initiatives such as AGIR Sahel and SHARE for the Horn of Africa. The big challenges to making this aid matter will be in gaining secure access to those who most need it and ensuring the accountability of our aid both towards the EU taxpayer and the beneficiary. These are areas where coordination and leadership are crucial at a time of severe budget constraints and an ever-more challenging humanitarian landscape."
Vulnerability and the recent crisis
The World-Wide Decision on Humanitarian Aid is allocated on the basis of an annual Global Needs Assessment (GNA), where the European Commission categorises 140 developing countries in terms of their vulnerability and the recent occurrence of a crisis. In 2012, using the GNA methodology, the Commission identified 68 countries currently experiencing at least one humanitarian crisis. Out of these, fifteen countries emerged as "extremely vulnerable", nine of which are found in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In addition to the €661 million that the Commission has allocated to the most intractable humanitarian problems around the globe, reserve resources are available during the year for unpredictable crises and disasters. In 2012 the entire reserve was used due to major disasters in the Sahel region of West Africa, the escalation of the conflict in Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan, all of which caused renewed violence against civilians and displacement. These additional emergency responses brought the total amount of humanitarian funding from the Commission to nearly €1.3 billion in 2012, the Commission’s highest ever annual spending on humanitarian aid.
The EU´s humanitarian assistance is based on the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. Every humanitarian aid decision taken must be in accordance with these four principles, which are at the heart of the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid.
EU humanitarian aid is distributed purely according to these principles and, without exception seeks to help those in the greatest need, irrespective of their nationality, religion, gender, ethnic origin or political affiliation.