By decision of Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has granted humanitarian aid appropriations totalling 67.6 million euros to people suffering from the world’s crises. Finland directs humanitarian assistance to Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean.
The purpose of humanitarian aid is to save human lives and alleviate human suffering in crisis situations. The humanitarian aid donated by Finland is based on the joint appeal published each year by the UN agencies; this year, the geographical focal point is once again Africa. Alongside the alleviation of acute distress situations, Finland lays emphasis on finding long-term solutions.
During winter, the humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa has slightly improved, and the most acute hunger seems to have subsided. However, the humanitarian situation in Somalia is still very fragile, and more than two million people still need assistance. The humanitarian needs of Sudan remain massive. As a result of the armed conflict in Darfur, 1.9 people are still living in camps for displaced persons. The situation has been further worsened by the unresolved border issues with South Sudan. The conflict has also resulted in a serious water, medicine and food crisis on the South Sudanese side of the border. 20.1 million euros of aid will be targeted for meeting these needs and to the Horn of Africa region in general.
There are fears that one of the biggest humanitarian crises of the year is about to develop in the Sahel region. The Sahel region suffers from climate change impacts on agriculture and chronic malnutrition. Famine threatens a total of some 11 million people. Especially children under the age of five, totalling more than one million, need assistance, since otherwise they are in danger of malnutrition. The aid targeted to the Sahel region will amount to 8.4 million euros.
The amount of assistance targeted to the Democratic Republic of Congo and the surrounding central African region and the Great Lakes area will be 5 million euros. Targets of assistance outside Africa include Haiti, Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan. Occupied Palestinian territories will be granted 3.5 million euros of assistance.
The main channels for providing assistance will be the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) (17.5 million euros) and the World Food Programme (WFP) (7.9 million euros). General support will be given to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which will be granted 6.5 million euros for funding, for example, first response needs arising in connection with natural disasters.
The International Red Cross will be supported by 11.4 million euros primarily through the Finnish Red Cross. Other Finnish organisations for channelling aid include Finn Church Aid and Fida International, which will be granted a total of 3.8 million euros.
Further information: Ulla-Maija Finskas, Head of Unit for Humanitarian Assistance, tel. +358 400 431 921, and Anssi Kullberg, First Secretary, tel. +358 400 327 829