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General information

Mr Marvisits Cuba

Vice-President of the Commission, Manuel Mar was in Cuba on 27-29 April on a visit which is expected to have important con sequences, notably as regards the organisation and strengthening of the EU's humanitarian assistance to this country.

In Havana, Mr Marinaugurated a liaison office for ECHO (the European Community Humanitarian Office) which will work in cooperation with NGOs already operating in the field. The office will be able to intervene autonomously in accordance with a set of competences agreed with the Cuban authorities The opening of this'antenna'follows a technical evaluation mission to Cuba which was undertaken in March on behalf of the Commission, and which identified serious problems facing the population including protein deficiencies, epidemics and increased mortality rates particularly among children.

ECHO has already had significant involvement in Cuba, committing some ECU 7.8 million during 1993, to help combat in particular an epidemic of optical neuritis The plan is for this medical assistance to be developed and increased in 1994. The newly-established office will manage the aid in close liaison with NGOs working on the ground (The Red Cross, Caritas, Medecins sans frontieres and Medicus Mundi).

A further element of the visit concerned the evolution of relations between the European Union and Cuba. Mr Marhad a long meeting with President Castro and also had discussions with the Minister of External Affairs, Trade and the Economy. These meetings provided an opportunity for a broad exchange of views on the humanitarian situation, but also on the economic and political prospects for the country.

During the press conference which took place after the discussions, Mr Marindicated that he was not in Cuba to talk about any hypothetical cooperation agreement. The negotiation of such an agreement, he said 'would presuppose a transformation of the economy and political conditions which have not been met' He had, he stated, spoken with the President about 'the way in which the European Union could contribute to the opening-up and progressive transformation of the Cuban economy into a market economy.'

The Commission Vice-President went on to stress that it was for the Cubans themselves to define this opening-up process. 'The EU can establish a framework for assistance and technical advice, having acquired considerable experience in other'transition'situations, but we need first to analyse the Cuban Government's reform programme.'

He concluded his statement to the press by saying; 'I believe that Cuba is at a crucial moment in its history, where it needs to make courageous responses at the political level.

It is evident that the world has changed and Cuba itself also needs to change. I hope that the opening up of the economy will be an importent element in stimulating and accelerating a political opening The recent efforts at working with the exile community, whilst of limited scope. represent a step in the right direction. Cuba must continue to follow the path of reconciliation.'

Commission-US meeting on Horn of Africa

On 3 June, Vice President Marmet with Mr Brian Atwood, who is Administrator of USAID and President Clinton's Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa.

The main purpose of Mr Atwood's visit was to coordinate the activities of the United States and the European Commission concerning aid in general and in the Horn of Africa in particular. The Special Envoy explained that, in his opinion. crisis prevention should form the backbone of international cooperation. In Africa, the US administration was focusing on the Horn where the situation is a cause of concern.

UN agencies (the FAO and WFP) estimate that between 4.5 million and 4.7 million people may be threatened by famine in the region. The food aid needs for 1994 are estimated at 2.24 million tons (Ethiopia - 1.19m, Sudan 0.575m, Eritrea 0.3m, Somalia 0.175m)

Global donor pledges to date amount to 1.52 million tons of which 0.462m is from the Commission food aid budget. AS recently as 24 May, the Commission pledged 80 000 tons (ecu 20m) of direct food aid for Ethiopia.

Vice President Marand Mr Atwood decided to establish regular contacts between their respective administrations. Henceforth, Us and commission officials will meet twice a year to discuss issues ranging from joint assessment of aid requirements to improvement of food security and disaster prevention.

As regards the Horn of Africa, Mr Marexplained to Mr Atwood the initiatives that the Commission has taken, particularly since the famine of the mid 1980s. These related to food early warning systems, food security and market liberalisation programmes and transport infrastructure to facilitate the distribution of aid.

Since the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) became fully operational at the beginning of 1993, it has become clear that the two biggest donors of international humanitarian aid could work together in this field. It is now proposed to extend this cooperation beyond humanitarian aid to tackle longer term issues, and to establish regular contacts between the two administrations with this in mind

Commission-UNFPA meeting

On 9 June, Vice President Marmet with Dr Nafis Sadik who is Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in her capacity as Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Population and Development which will be held in Cairo in September

Mr Marstressed to Dr Sadik the willingness of the Commission to deepen its support for the UN Population Fund, and its full support for the objectives of the Conference. He underlined the point that population problems had to be approached realistically, with an open mind and in accordance with the needs of the developing countries.

The UNEPA was established in 1969 and is the largest multilateral agency for population activities. with an annual budget of some ECU 200m. UNFPA undertakes projects and programmes in almost all developing countries In 1993. the Commission committed ECU 18.6m to UNFPA and it has also contributed to the special budget of the Cairo Conference.

In May, the Commission, at the initiative of Mr Mar introduced a communication on the European Union position on population growth. In this document, the commission stressed the need for a substantial increase in public development assistance to population programmes by the year 2000 currently, the Member States spend approximately ECU 200m a year (0 4% of total development assistance). It is proposed that the increase should be attained both through new funds and through the redistribution of existing resources.

Present demographic trends show global population growth declining from 2.1% per annum in 1965-70 to 1.7% today. However, no decline has been recorded in sub-Saharan Africa (3%) or North Africa and the Middle

East (3%). Between 1991 and 2000 the world will gain an additional 1 billion inhabitants - the equivalent of the entire population of the world at the beginning of the 19th century.

In its communication, the Commission has set a target of ECU 300m as a minimum for annual expenditure in this area, to be financed from the resources both of the Ec budget and the Lomonvention.

Population policies essentially have three elements: social policy directed towards health and education; the provision of information on family planning; and increasing the availability of family planning and contraceptive devices.

Rwanda

A comprehensive regional humanitarian aid programme

In view of the scale of the Rwandan crisis, the Commission has decided to implement a comprehensive regional humanitarian aid plan to help those affected throughout the Great Lakes region.

Under this plan, a commitment of ECU 19 million has just been agreed. This is in addition to the ECU 10m allocated to the UN High Commission for Refugees (decision of 27 May) giving a total, in initial assistance, of ECU 29m. This is intended to provide assistance, for a period of three months, to Rwandan and Burundian refugees in Burundi (430 000), Rwanda (80 000), Tanzania (410 000), Zaire (130 000) and Uganda (8000).

A further sum of ECU 3m, which has been directed through the ICRC to help victims in the conflict zone, can be added to this figure.

Since 6 April, humanitarian aid to the value of ECU 35.73m has been provided by the European Community to help the populations affected. Aid from the individual Member States of the EU has reached almost ECU 30m.

ECHO aircraft for East Africa

The week commencing 16 May saw the arrival of four aircraft, operated by the European Community I humanitarian Office (EChlO). in Nairobi (Kenya). Djibouti and Mogadishu (Somalia). She aeroplanes will, henceforth, provide a regular link for the humanitarian agencies and other destinations in So malia as well as with Lockichoggio in Kenya which is the support base for humanitarian operations in southern Sudan This pilot project to provide regional assistance using aircraft was agreed by the Commission on 12 April and responds to a concern for more efficient and secure transport of the EU's humanitarian assistance in this region. The project is initially for a period of five months, and the sum allocated for this purpose is ecu 2.5 million. It is important to recall that aid deliveries and movements of humanitarian personnel in Somalia are generally done by air, for obvious reasons associated with security, the distances that need to be travelled, and the lack of infrastructure. Hitherto, ECHO has helped to finance transport which has been organised on an ad hoc basis either by NGO's operating in Somalia or through private initiatives As a result of the decision which has just been implemented, ECHO has now assumed financial and operational responsibility for a regional transport system. With one mediumized plane (capable of carrying 6 tonnes of supplies or 30 passengers) and three smaller aircraft (capacity: 2.5 tonnes or ten passengers) a better and more regular service, coordinated with the humanitarian agencies and meeting the logistical requirements, can be assured

Aid decisions

The Commission has recently taken the following decisions to provide humanitarian aid (including emergency and food aid);

Ex-Yugoslavia

A summary of aid provided

The European Commission has just decided to allocate a further ECU 47.34m to help victims of the conflict in ax-Yugoslavia. This brings the total amount of humanitarian aid provided to more than ECU 762m ($900 million approx.) since the beginning of the war. The annual breakdown so far is as follows:

Thrs does not include the cost of the European Union's common action agreed by the Council on 22 December 1993, of which ECU 14.3m falls under the budget of the European Community.

The aid most recently agreed will be divided as follows:

year

Amount (ECU thousands)

%

1991

13000

2

1992

277000

36

1993

396000

52

1994

76015

10




TOTAL

762015

100

Bosnia-Herzegovina: ECU 21.2m. A large part of this will be in the form of medical assistance - medicines and equipment, the provision of services and training actions. The hygiene programmes currently under way will be completed and a number of special psychosocial and educational projects will be developed.

Croatia ECU 11.29m. ECU 6m of this will be for an initial coordinated programme involving the Community's 'Task Force' (ECTF) and the NGOs which will cover the full range of hygiene requirements. In addition, a number of medical and psycho-social actions will be extended

Serbia/Montenegro: ECU 14.85m. ECU 8m of this has been set aside to provide basic foodstuffs to some 380 000 refugees and 150 000 others who are now in need following the deterioration in living conditions in the country.

ACP countries

Chad: ECU 287 000 to provide food aid for victims of the drought in the Kanem area, to the east of N'Djamena.

Liberia ECU 236 000 for additional shelters and basic sanitary installations in the Buchanan refugee camp and for the setting-up of nutritional centres in the town of Bong Mines.

Liberia ecu 133 000 for medical aid to a hospital and 12 health centres in the Cape Mount district.

Malawi: ECU 3.74 million to help Mozambican refugees in the country. The aid will be used, among other things. to maintain access roads to the reception areas. provide sanitary installations and equipment and support schools.

Nigeria: Ecu 340000 to build huts in the south of the country for people displaced as a result of ethnic conflicts.

Sierra Leone: ECU 973 000 to supply food aid for displaced people in the town of Kenema.

Somalia: ECU 688 000 to help victims of the civil war. The aid will be used to counter a cholera epidemic in Giahar, ensure the functioning of a hospital in the Gedo region and provide basic health care in the town of Borhache.

Somalia: ECU 165 000 to cover, for a six A month period, the costs of storage in Nairobi (Kenya), and transport, of medicines. These cannot be stored in Mogadishu because of the prevailing insecurity.

Somalia: ECU 1.153 million to continue and extend, for a period of six months, four medical/nutritional projects, three of which are in Mogadishu.

Sudan: ECU 17 million towards a global humanitarian aid plan designed to help victims of the continuing conflict in the country

Tanzania Ecu 680 000 to help Rwandan refugees with medical assistance, medicines and basic essentials.

Tanzania: ECU 450 000 to help Rwandan refugees meet their immediate needs, particularly as regards access to drinking water.

Togo: ECU 200 000 for immediate assistance to Ghanaian refugees who have taken refuge in the north-west of the country following the ethnic conflict in northern Ghana.

Zaire: ECU 320 000 to help people of Kasai origin who have been expelled from Shaba to Kananga. The aid will be used, in particular. to provide water and medicines.

Non-ACP countries

Bolivia: ECU 230 000 in the form of food and medical aid to help isolated rural communities affected by the torrential rains in the La Paz and Cochabamba departments.

Bolivia: ECU 250 000 in further aid to complement the above.

Peru: ECU 780 000 to help victims of the recent floods in the north of the country and for essential medical assistance for people in the Satipo province. north-east of Lima, who have been displaced as a result of terrorist actions.

Armenia: ECU 200 000 to maintain. for a six month period, three centres for handicapped people in Yerevan, Gueremavan and Vartenis.

Kirghizistan: ECU 250 000 to buy tents for victims of floods, landslides and avalanches provoked by the spring thaw.

Russian: ECU 940 000 to extend for a further six months. a project to provide hot meals for indigent people in Moscow.

Tadjikistan: ECU 360 000 for a drinking water and sanitation programme to help people displaced by the civil war.

Ukraine: ECU 350 000 for medical aid to help child victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Algeria: ECU 550 000 to provide food aid and basic essentials for Tuareg refugees from Niger and Mali in the south of the country.

Palestine: ECU 2.4 million for medical aid for the people of the West Bank and Gaza, in the form of medicine supplies, medical equipment and technical assistance

Yemen: ECU 300 000 in medical aid for victims of the civil war.

Yemen: ECU 200 000 to take care of the wounded in two camps, to provide basic esentials for displaced persons and to help Somali refugees in the country (in the Al Kawd camp)

Afghanistan: ECU 1 million for essential equipment and medical supplies for displaced people

Bangladesh: ECU 500 000 to provide basic essentials for victims of the recent cyclone

Laos. ECU 1.5 million to help victims of the drought which has led a shortfall in rice production

Pakistan ECU 715 000 to help Afghan refuges in the country by increasing the capacity of the
Nasirbagh reception camp in the Peshawar district.

Food AID


The Commision took a decision to finance food aid as set out in the chart which follows: