The following is a press release issued on 6th February 2015 by European Commission on EU’s humanitarian commitment.—Ed
Taking the opportunity of a three-day visit to Myanmar, Jean-Louis De Brouwer, the global Director of Operations for the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to support humanitarian needs of conflict-affected populations in different parts of the country – namely Rakhine, Kachin and Northern Shan states. The initial humanitarian assistance provided in 2015 would amount to €15 million – including the support for refugee camps in Thailand, he confirmed.
“We welcome the ongoing transition and positive reforms that have been taking place in the country in the recent past, however the United Nation’s Humanitarian Response Plan for 2015 confirms that humanitarian needs have increased in some regions due to civil and inter-communal violence, said Mr. De Brouwer after visiting Yangon, Sittway and Nay Pyi Taw.
We stand committed to contribute in addressing those needs in an impartial manner, by continued funding to our humanitarian partners who are providing life-saving aid to the most vulnerable populations in those areas. We will of course also follow the situation closely throughout 2015 in order to track potential new unmet needs that may arise from the evolving situation in this period of transition”.
During his stay, Mr. De Brouwer visited Rakhine state, in order to take stock of the situation faced by populations who were displaced by inter-communal violence in 2012. After exchanging with both communities, he expressed concern about the prevailing ethnic segregation, and the deterioration of living conditions in the camps. “These camps were meant to be temporary, but as we are now facing a protracted displacement, they urgently need to be refurbished”, he explained.
“The absence of freedom of movement for the Rohingya minority is also of particular concern, as it has serious implications both on livelihood opportunities for members of the community, and on any potential for reconciliation”, he added.
While in Sittwe, the Director also joined the EU Ambassador to Myanmar, Mr. Roland Kobia, in attending the launch of an EU-funded education initiative for the children of Rakhine.
Implemented by the Lutheran World Federation, this project will continue and expand the work initiated last year through ECHO’s Children of Peace Initiative, dedicated to bringing education to children affected by conflicts around the world.
Through its Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), the European Commission has been funding relief programs in Myanmar for over 20 years, providing a total of €191 million worth of humanitarian assistance to victims of man-made and natural disasters, including €12,9 million for the year 2015.
ECHO-funded operations presently focus on channelling relief to people displaced by the Kachin conflict, and those affected by the inter-communal violence which erupted in Rakhine State in 2012. Sectors of intervention include food and non-food items, health care, nutrition, water and sanitation, livelihoods, coordination, education and protection.
In order to build up the resilience of communities regularly affected by natural disasters, ECHO has also allocated €4.9 million since 2010 to support community disaster preparedness projects in coastal flood-prone areas and for urban earthquake risks measures.