Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

European Commission releases €18m in humanitarian aid to North Africa

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Thursday, February 17th 2022 à 15:55 | Read 678 times

ALGERIA / EGYPT / LIBYA. On Tuesday 15 February 2022 in Strasbourg, the European Commission defined the amount of humanitarian aid it will grant in 2022 to support the most vulnerable people in North Africa. The €18 million package will be targeted at Algeria (€9 million), Egypt (€5 million) and Libya (€4 million).

"The European Union is committed to helping people in need, wherever they are. The new funding for humanitarian organisations in Algeria, Egypt and Libya will help people made vulnerable by conflict, instability or displacement," says Janez Lenarčič, European Commissioner for Crisis Management. "As their situation has become increasingly difficult during the Covid-19 pandemic, we will help them cover their basic needs and ensure that they can access health care, education and other services," he says.

In Algeria, European support will cover "the most urgent humanitarian needs of vulnerable Sahrawi refugees," says a European Commission press release. These include food and nutritional plans, improved access to drinking water, basic health care and education.

Several thousand Sahrawis are stranded in five camps (Dakhla, Smara, Aousserd, Boujdour, Laayoune) completely isolated south-west of the Algerian border due to the more than forty year old conflict in Western Sahara. Since 1993, the European Union has granted them €268 million in aid (€10 million in humanitarian funds in 2021 to provide food aid), excluding new sums announced on 15 February 2022. Their survival depends on international aid. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), acute malnutrition rates among children aged zero to five reached 7.6% in 2019, compared to 4.7% in 2016. Half of all women and children suffer from anaemia.

84% of refugees below the poverty line in Egypt

In Egypt, refugees and asylum seekers living in the poorest areas of major urban centres will benefit from the EU funding. The money will ensure they have access to quality education, protection services and cover their basic needs.

Half of the 266,000 registered refugees are Syrians (135,000) and the rest are mainly from the Horn of Africa, Sudan (51,000), South Sudan (20,000) and Eritrea (20,000). The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 84% of refugees in Egypt live below the poverty line, compared to 32.5% of Egyptians. "The dramatic rise in food and utility prices is further aggravating the living conditions of the most vulnerable populations," the European Commission said.
The EU has already allocated €27.9 million in aid since 2015 (including more than €6 million in 2021).

In Libya, the European Commission intends to focus on the humanitarian needs in health, education and protection of the most needy in urban centres and hard-to-reach places. According to the UN, some 643,000 Libyans have been repatriated and 212,000 remain displaced in the country. They are in addition to the 610,000 migrants, asylum seekers and refugees of more than forty-three nationalities present on Libyan soil. 5,000 of them are locked up in detention camps with inhumane living conditions. 803,000 people in Libya are in need, with limited access to health care and frequent shortages of medicines.

Since the revolution in 2011, and the successive civil wars that lasted ten years, the EU has granted €84.3m in humanitarian aid to Libya (€9m in 2021).

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