European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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© Danish Refugee Council/Christian Jepsen, 2019

Humanitarian needs in Africa continue to be on the rise due to the combined effect of conflict, food shortages, climate change, poverty, and disease outbreaks – all factors to which the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an additional challenge.

Conflict is disrupting the lives of many fragile communities in the Sahel. Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger are at the epicentre of one of the world’s fastest-growing humanitarian crises. Vulnerable people living in conflict-hit areas are facing, for consecutive years, a food crisis due to the overlapping challenges in the region.

More than half of the population in the Central African Republic needs humanitarian assistance. Interlinked and complex crises in the Lake Chad region (bordering Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria) are giving rise to numerous humanitarian needs.

Ethiopia is afflicted by overlapping crises, giving rise to widespread humanitarian needs. Due to the ongoing conflict in Tigray, it is estimated that thousands of people have died and several hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes. 

Insecurity and recurrent weather extremes are eroding the ability of fragile communities in Somalia to recover.

For decades, people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have had to escape conflict.  Humanitarian needs in the country are among the highest in the world.

Uganda hosts the largest number of refugees in the continent, the majority of whom are from South Sudan or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While Uganda has an open refugee policy, the arrival of so many refugees since 2017 has created great humanitarian needs and required increased provision of basic services for both refugees and host communities. 

Since 2019, Eastern Africa, including Kenya and Ethiopia, has seen an upsurge of desert locusts, spreading across several countries at rates not seen in decades

Climatic shocks and recurrent natural hazards, on top of economic and political challenges, crop pests and diseases, and conflict, continue to affect millions of people in the Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region.

Africa has always been on the top of the EU’s humanitarian agenda. EU humanitarian aid in Africa focuses on providing people in need with:

  • shelter, food and nutrition assistance
  • access to clean water and health care
  • education for children caught in humanitarian crises
  • protection for the vulnerable, such as through the provision of psychosocial support services to victims of gender-based violence.

Efforts are made to use different aid instruments that promote the link between short-term humanitarian aid, which can only address the consequences of a crisis, and building synergies with development and peace action that tackle the root causes of crises.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and through its humanitarian funding, the European Commission, as part of a Team Europe approach, has been helping fragile countries in Africa on various fronts to support vulnerable people facing additional challenges.

This includes:

  • the mobilisation of additional humanitarian aid funding to address the deteriorating humanitarian situation due to the pandemic
  • the organisation of a number of Humanitarian Air Bridge flights to help humanitarian aid and staff reach vulnerable people
  • support to the rollout of vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems.

The EU is also a lead contributor to the COVAX Facility, with close to €3.2 billion channelled in support. The COVAX Facility is helping secure at least 1.8 billion doses for 92 low and lower middle-income countries, including in Africa. Additional vaccines are being provided through the EU’s vaccine-sharing mechanism and the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

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