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6 million for victims in Nepal, Bhutanese refugees

Humanitarian aid: Commission allocates € 6 million for victims of the conflict in Nepal and for Bhutanese refugees

The European Commission has released an additional € 6 million in humanitarian aid for the victims of the conflict in Nepal and for Bhutanese refugees in this country. This amount will enable partners to provide access to clean water and sanitation, food security, health care and protection for vulnerable civilians and food and nutritional support for the refugees. Funds are being channelled through the Commission’s Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) which comes under the responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel.

The European Commission has adopted two new decisions. A €4 million decision has been adopted to assist rural vulnerable populations in Nepal affected by the conflict which started in 1996. To date, this crisis has cost the lives of 12,500 people, with an increase in violence since the breakdown of the bilateral ceasefire in August 2003 affecting the daily life of the rural communities as well as disrupting the provision of social services. ECHO will primarily provide support protection activities for harassed and intimidated populations in the context of the conflict, particularly children. Also primary health care will be provided for around 55,000 people in rural Nepal, particularly women, children and the disabled living in the Mid Western and Central Regions. Additional support will improve the food security situation of about 190,000 vulnerable people.

A second decision of €2 million will help meet the basic food needs of the 105,000 refugees from Bhutan living in seven camps in the south eastern part of Nepal. Basic rations, purchased on local markets, are distributed by World Food Programme (WFP) via the Nepalese Red Cross. The support also includes the supply of supplementary food items to 3,300 highly vulnerable people (babies, malnourished under-fives, nursing mothers, victims of tuberculosis and infirm elderly people) as well as the provision of vocational and plot-gardening training, and small income generating activities for the refugees, the latter two focusing on women.

The monitoring of these programmes will be conducted by the ECHO Office in Nepal, due to open by the end of the year.

Since 2001, the Commission has provided nearly €16 million in humanitarian aid to Nepal, including €5.675 million for the population victims of the conflict and €9.9 million in food aid for the Bhutanese refugees, victims of this crisis.

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