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Afghan refugee camp - 2001 © EC/ECHO

EU will continue to lead in humanitarian aid, earmarking €370m for victims of disasters worldwide.

Every year millions of people throughout the world suffer in crises – from  natural disasters to armed conflict. "We can get help to where it is needed without delay", says humanitarian aid commissioner Louis Michel.

The Commission will set aside nearly €370m this year to help the world's most vulnerable disaster victims. The bulk of the funds will be used to protect, feed, clothe, shelter, provide health care and meet the sanitation needs of victims – over 18.5m people are expected to benefit from the food assistance budget alone (€160m). Other funds will be shared among countries in the developing world, including Afghanistan and Uganda.

The EU's humanitarian aid department (ECHO) is the world's largest provider of disaster aid.  For example, its ECHO Flight service (budget €8m) provides help and emergency evacuation for remote settlements that can be reached only by air. Intervening around the world, the department works with some 200 partners, including non-governmental organisations and specialised UN agencies and the Red Cross/Red Crescent.

In 2007, the Commission spent  €220m on emergency food aid and short-term support in more than 30 countries worldwide.

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