Frequent natural disasters and situations of instability in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as in central and north-eastern India, generate significant humanitarian needs among the country’s most vulnerable populations.
Over 700 000 of the state's residents, who have witnessed violence for years, bear symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress. Many also need livelihood support, as insecurity hampers economic activities.
Central India, particularly southern Chhattisgarh, has seen sporadic bursts of violence between Maoist insurgents and security forces in recent years. Indigenous people living in remote forests have been the most affected. Such instability limits their access to already inadequate basic services, including health care.
North-east India is a quagmire of insurgencies. The resulting violence affects thousands of people. Ethnic tensions over land rights flare up time and again. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, an estimated 616 000 people were displaced in India as a result of armed conflict and inter-communal violence as of April 2015. The prolonged conflict has disrupted access to education for thousands of children who are currently living in relief camps. Lack of access to health care services and potential child labour and sexual exploitation are another major concern.
Overall, floods, cyclones, earthquakes, droughts and landslides have inflicted tremendous suffering on the people of India over the years. Low castes and tribal populations, whose social and economic indicators lag behind national averages, are most impacted. This was again demonstrated during the 2013 Cyclone Phailin in Odisha, which affected hundreds of thousands of people.
The EU’s humanitarian response
The European Commission has been present in India since 1995 and has responded to all major emergencies, including the Orissa cyclone in 1999, the Gujarat earthquake in 2001, the Tsunami in 2004, the Jammu and Kashmir earthquake in 2005, the Bihar floods in 2008 and Cyclone Phailin in 2013. The EU’s total humanitarian assistance to India to date exceeds €128.9 million.
In 2016, the Commission has provided €500 000 to fund a project focusing on access to education for displaced children in conflict-torn Assam. The funds will also be used to deliver much-needed health care assistance and increased protection to affected children.
Last year, €3.4 million was allocated to provide psycho-social support and livelihood means to people affected by conflict in Jammu and Kashmir and the north-eastern states, as well as health and protection services to communities in remote settlements in Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.
Between 2001 and 2014, as part of its Disaster Preparedness Programme (DIPECHO), the Commission released more than €8 million to support vulnerable communities in reducing the impact of floods, cyclones and other natural disasters through community-based initiatives, such as the creation of early warning systems and the building of adapted physical infrastructure. Over the years, disaster risk reduction initiatives have been integrated in all humanitarian response programming.