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EU Maintains Its Humanitarian Commitment To Burma


Burma/Myanmar: Commission maintains its humanitarian commitment with EUR 18 million in new relief funding

The European Commission has allocated a further €18 million to address the basic humanitarian needs of vulnerable people in Burma/Myanmar during 2008. The focus will be on victims of the long-running crisis living in the country's frontier areas and refugees located in camps just across the border in Thailand.

Around 1.2 million people are expected to benefit directly from this support. The funds will be managed by the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), under the responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel, and will be channelled through operational partners: European NGOs, United Nations agencies and the Red Cross.

"Recent events suggest that there is no immediate end in sight for the country's hard-pressed population", said Louis Michel. "More than ever, humanitarian aid, delivered by organisations like the International Red Cross (ICRC) and NGOs is needed to save lives, reduce suffering and protect vulnerable people."

The main beneficiaries of Commission-supported relief programmes in Burma/Myanmar will be more than a million highly vulnerable rural people living in remote frontier areas, who have no access to basic social services (Rakhine, Shan, Mon and Kayin states, Sagaing and Thanintaryi divisions). The other main target group is around 138,000 Burmese refugees living in camps in Thailand. These refugees, with no access to work outside the camps, are almost entirely dependent on external assistance.

For beneficiaries inside Burma/Myanmar, the funding will include:

* the rehabilitation or installation of basic water and sanitation systems, and actions to promote hygiene;

* continued support for the fight against malaria;

* mobile supplementary feeding centres serving around 10,000 children and more than 2,000 women who are eitherpregnant, breastfeeding or caring for young children. Special therapeutic feeding will also be provided for children and women suffering from acute malnutrition;

* efforts to ensure compliance with the international humanitarian rules that are designed to protect civilians and non-combatants in conflict situations.

For the refugees in Thailand, the funds will cover:

* food and cooking fuel for camp residents;

* measures to tackle serious disease such as respiratory infections and diarrhoea;

* supplementary feeding for children and mothers;

* action to improve reproductive and child health.

The Commission has been funding relief programmes for victims of the crisis in Burma/Myanmar since 1994. Since 2000, humanitarian aid worth almost €100 million has been provided. In October 2005 an ECHO office was opened in Yangon to facilitate the delivery of European humanitarian aid in Burma/Myanmar.


ENDS

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