During these times of crisis, countries, regions and cities across the European Union are stretching out a helping hand to fellow EU citizens and assistance is being given to those most in need: donations of protective equipment such as masks, medical teams, cross-border treatments of ill patients and bringing stranded EU citizens home. This is European solidarity at its best.
Upon request, the European Commission coordinates assistance to respond to the coronavirus, such as to coordinate the delivery of personal protective material, repatriation flights from outside Europe, and co-finances the delivery of assistance and the transport of medical teams from one country to another.
With its Emergency Response Coordination Centre, the Commission stands ready 24/7 to assist all countries, in Europe and beyond, who ask for specific support. To this date, the European Response Coordination Centre received a total of 49 requests for assistance: 7 from EU Member States, 3 from EU Civil Protection Mechanism participating States, 2 from International Organisations and 37 from third countries. Requests for assistance from 19 countries (Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Kenya, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Serbia, Spain, Ukraine) have been partially answered with offers.
Creating a European capacity of medical equipment
On 19 March, the European Commission created a strategic rescEU capacity – a common European reserve – of emergency medical equipment, such as ventilators, protective masks and laboratory supplies to help EU countries face the coronavirus pandemic. The Commission finances 100% of the capacity, which is to be hosted by one or several Member States. The hosting State or States are responsible for procuring the equipment with the support of the Commission. The Emergency Response Coordination Centre is managing the distribution of the equipment to ensure that it quickly goes where it is most needed. Germany and Romania are the first Member States to host the rescEU reserve.
Between end of April and beginning of May 370,000 FFP2 protective face masks from the rescEU medical stockpile hosted by Romania and Germany were delivered to Italy, Spain, Croatia, Lithuania, Montenegro and North Macedonia. This support followed that of the EU Medical Teams, masks and disinfectant already mobilised via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism as well as bilateral offers from Member States. In July, the EU delivered some further 65.000 FFP2 protective masks to Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia from the rescEU common European reserve of medical equipment hosted by Romania and Germany.The European Commission is covering 100% of the procurement, maintenance and delivery costs.
In the first week of August, more batches of FFP2 and FFP3 protective masks were distributed to Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia from rescEU - the common European reserve of medical equipment. In addition to the delivery of equipment, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism coordinated the deployment of an Italian Emergency Medical Team of six medical experts to Azerbaijan to support local health authorities in the fight against the coronavirus. So far, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has responded to 25 requests throughout the pandemic and provided personal protective equipment, medicines and health experts.
On 2 June, the Commission proposed to reinforce rescEU with €2 billion over 2021-2027, to strengthen the response capabilities of the European Union in cases of cross-border emergencies, such as the coronavirus. The additional funding will be used to create reserves of strategic equipment to cover health emergencies, forest ﬁre outbreaks, chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear incidents or other major emergencies. As such the total budget for the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism will top €3,1 billion.
Bringing stranded citizens home
The Commission is helping Member States to coordinate assistance and consular repatriation operations of EU citizens from across the world, wherever they may be.
Once a Member State activates the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, the Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre coordinates all actions with the European External Action Service and with Member States. The Commission can also co-finance up to 75% of the transport costs. Non-EU citizens can also benefit from this assistance.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, more than half a million people have been flown back to Europe thanks to flights organised by the Member States. In addition, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has facilitated the repatriation of more than 78,000 EU citizens to Europe from all over the world. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism has so far coordinated the delivery of assistance to 24 countries, including 7 EU Member States, on top of bilateral offers. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism has so far coordinated the delivery of assistance to 24 countries, including 7 EU Member States, on top of bilateral offers.
Assistance within the EU
The Emergency Support Instrument
The Emergency Support Instrument provides support to help Member States in their efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides a broad EU tool-box to respond to needs which can be best addressed in a strategic, coordinated manner at European level. As a financing arm of the Joint European Roadmap towards lifting COVID-19 containment measures, the instrument helps mitigate the immediate consequences of the pandemic and anticipate the needs related to the exit and recovery.
The Emergency Support Instrument is based on the principle of solidarity and pools efforts and resources to quickly address shared strategic needs. It is an important European top-up for the existing national and other European measures to tackle the ongoing public health crisis. On 18 June, a pilot operation has successfully delivered over seven tonnes of personal protective equipment to Bulgaria. The cargo includes over 500,000 protective masks, purchased by Bulgaria with transport costs covered by the EU.
Dispatched medical equipment across Europe
Through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, the European Union is helping coordinate the delivery of medical equipment and related items (protective face masks, disinfectant and other products) across Europe, to countries that have sought assistance. FFP2 masks from the rescEU reserve of medical equipment, fully financed from the EU budget, have been supplied to Lithuania. Additionally, the EU is financing the delivery of disinfectant, blankets and bedlinen to North Macedonia and Montenegro, donated by Estonia via the Mechanism. Slovakia also added ambulances to their offer of support to Ukraine as requested under the Mechanism. On 11 May, 20,000 masks from the rescEU medical stockpile hosted by Romania were delivered to Montenegro and the Republic of North Macedonia. The European Commission also co-financed a delivery of personal protective equipment, such as masks, from China to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, following the activation of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism by Estonia.
EU Medical Teams deployed to Italy
On 7 and 8 April, a team of doctors and nurses from Romania and Norway were deployed to Milan and Bergamo respectively, mobilised through and financed by the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and coordinated by the EU Emergency Response Coordination Centre. Austria has also offered over 3,000 litres of medical disinfectant. In addition, the European Union’s Copernicus satellite system has been activated by Italy, to map out health facilities and monitor activities and public spaces. Several EU Member States have also sent protective equipment (masks, overalls, ventilators) to Italy and taken in Italian patients for treatment in their countries.
Support for Greece
The European Commission supports Greece both operationally and financially when it comes to managing migration. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the Commission’s priority was to support Greece in carrying out an emergency plan to protect vulnerable people from contracting the virus and avoid a public health crisis in the camps.
In line with the commitment of President von der Leyen during her visit to Greece at the beginning of March, €350 million is already in place and agreed by the budgetary authority to provide additional support to Greece for migration management. The Commission will allocate a further €350 million of financial assistance. The increased funding will support, amongst other actions, increased reception capacity on the Greek islands, the provision of services and emergency items (e.g. food but also non-food items) in the camps, the provision of additional medical teams, increased assistance to the Greek Asylum Service, and the deployment of border guards and police officers at Greece’s external borders. The funding support also aims at helping Greece to prevent and slow down the potential spread of the coronavirus in the camps, including through the transfer of vulnerable people from camps to alternative accommodation.
Through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, 17 Member States have offered more than 90,000 items of in-kind assistance to Greece, such as shelter, health and sanitation items, some of these used to support efforts in preventing a coronavirus outbreak. Furthermore, Austria, Czechia, France, the Netherlands and Denmark offered additional hygiene, medical and sanitary materials, as well as non-alimentary items (blankets, sleeping bags, pillows) and accommodation and medical care containers, to help support the Greek authorities with the decongestion of the refugee camps in the Aegean Islands. The European Union will coordinate and co-finance the delivery of this assistance to Greece.
On 1 July, the Commission adopted a decision approving 13 additional requests by Greece for technical support through the Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP). €5 million in financing will be allocated to selected projects in the areas of e-governance, education, health, labor, environment, and energy, amongst others. The funding aims to support Greece recover from the coronavirus pandemic, by boosting economic growth, alleviating social challenges and improving the lives of its citizens in tangible ways. The new measures will come on top of the more than 170 support projects coordinated by the Commission in Greece.
Cohesion policy support measures approved in record time
To help address the effects of the coronavirus crisis on the Greek national economy, on 13 July the Commission approved the modification in record time of thirteen 2014-2020 Regional Operational Programmes and two national Operational Programmes in Greece. These modifications, made possible by the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative adopted under Cohesion policy, make €1.14 billion of EU Cohesion policy funds available to fund entrepreneurship support actions. These funds will finance actions in favour of approximately 90,000 Greek small and medium enterprises.
Support to Bulgaria
On 25 June, the Commission, through the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, made available over €20 million to support Bulgaria’s health sector in the fight against the coronavirus. The funds are used to purchase new, top-class medical equipment, life-saving medication, and personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, including over 477 ventilators, more than 2 million face masks and 177,000 test kits. Under the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, unspent resources from the European Regional Development Fund are redirected towards improving the crisis-response capacity of national healthcare systems. Through this programme, the EU has already invested €71 million in improving efficiency and accessibility of emergency health care in Bulgaria.
€618 million in Cohesion policy funding for Poland
The Commission approved changes to three cohesion policy operational programmes in Poland, redirecting €618 million in Cohesion policy funding. The modifications will make available €314.5 million of EU Cohesion funds for over 7,200 enterprises suffering from financial loss. The changes will provide finance for testing in the field of diagnostics, therapy and prevention, support research projects as well as pilot projects intended to readjust company business models and help health workers and sanitary inspection services. Finally, the modification of the Regional Operational Programme for Wielkopolska will also channel €63 million to help health and social assistance and support small and medium enterprises. The Wielkopolska region has previously received 110 respirators, 100 hospital beds and intensive care units, 24,000 litres of disinfectant and over 1.5 million personal protective equipment for hospitals, in assistance.
Commission extends support for health systems and businesses in Italy
On 5 August, the Commission approved modifications of two Cohesion policy Operational Programmes in the Italian regions of Umbria and Campania, through the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative packages. The Programme modifications enable greater access to EU funding to help regional authorities further mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The modifications strenghtens support for the healthcare and medical research sectors, and the provision of capital in grants and guarantees to microenterprises in Campania. Furthermore, the modifications will also provide increased financial support for businesses, as well as measures to reinforce the regional healthcare systems in Umbria.
€150 million of Cohesion policy funding for Spain
On 11 August, the European Commission approved the modification of the regional programmes for the Spanish Basque Country and Asturias, foreseeing a redirection of €150 million of Cohesion policy funding to strengthen the response capacities of the healthcare sector to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the reallocation of existing funds, the modification of the two programmes will temporarily increase the EU financing rate to 100%. This will help beneficiaries of the funding to overcome liquidity scarcity in the implementation of their projects. The modifications were implemented under the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative.
The European Solidarity Tracker
The European Solidarity Tracker is an interactive data visualisation tool that visualises solidarity among EU member states and EU institutions. Drawing on publicly available sources collected by ECFR’s associate researchers and the Rethink: Europe team, the European Solidarity Tracker documents a dense network of mutual aid and cooperation across Europe and illustrates the critical role the EU has played throughout the coronavirus crisis.
Assistance outside the EU
A global European Union response to the pandemic
“We will only win this battle with a coordinated global response. Therefore, we will support our partners,” President von der Leyen said.
To fight the coronavirus on a global scale, on 8 April, the European Commission announced some €15.6 billion of support for partner countries’ efforts in tackling the pandemic.
The EU is mobilising more than €15.6 billion to:
tackle immediate needs,
both humanitarian and in the health care sector
strengthen the health, water and sanitation systems of partner countries, and support research
address the economic and social consequences
The EU’s response follows a Team Europe approach, combining resources from the EU, its Member States and financial institutions, including the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, to support each partner country.
€3 billion financial assistance package for ten neighbouring countries
On 22 April the Commission proposed a €3 billion macro-financial assistance package to ten enlargement and neighbourhood partners: the Republic of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegowina, Georgia, the Hashemite Kingdon of Jordan, Kosovo, the Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia, the Republic of Tunisia and Ukraine. The proposal comes in addition to the €15.6 billion ‘Team Europe’ strategy in support of partner countries' efforts in tackling the coronavirus pandemic. The €3 billion package aims to to limit the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis in partner countries. It will support structural reforms dedicated to strengthening economic governance and transparency, as well as improving conditions for sustainable growth.
On 11 August, the Commission, on behalf of the EU, has agreed Memoranda of Understanding on macro-financial assistance programmes with eight partners: Albania (€180 million), Georgia (€150 million), Jordan (€700 million, covering two macro-financial assistance operations), Kosovo (€100 million), the Republic of Moldova (€100 million), Montenegro (€60 million), North Macedonia (€160 million) and Ukraine (€1.2 billion). Negotiations on the Memoranda of Understanding are ongoing with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Tunisia. The ongoing and swift implementation of these programmes is an important demonstration of the EU's solidarity with these countries at a time of unprecedented crisis and will help them limit the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable
The coronavirus pandemic has created a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions in some of the most critical areas of the world. To respond to the most pressing needs of already vulnerable nations, in February 2020, the EU was among the very first to respond to the World Health Organization’s Coronavirus Response Plan. €30 million was allocated to meet the most pressing needs in some 10 countries already facing humanitarian crises. In addition, on 19 May, the European Commission announced that it will further allocate an additional €50 million in humanitarian aid. The new funding will help vulnerable people facing major humanitarian crises notably in the Sahel, Lake Chad and the Great Lakes regions, the Central African Republic, Eastern Africa, in Syria, Yemen, Palestine and Venezuela, as well as in the Rohingya. The assistance will be provided to help vulnerable people meet their humanitarian needs and ensure that humanitarian actors continue to carry out their life-saving work. It will provide access to health services, protective equipment, water and sanitation, and will be channeled through non-governmental organisations, international organisations, United Nations agencies, and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Some examples of EU funded humanitarian aid helping vulnerable communities can be seen here.
EU Humanitarian Air Bridge
The coronavirus pandemic has brought about critical logistical challenges for the humanitarian community. While needs remain exponentially high in many critical areas. the delivery of vital assistance is held up due to absence of commercial flight.
To help with the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic, on 8 May the European Union set up the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge – a temporary initiative based on a set of air transport services enabling the delivery of humanitarian aid to countries most affected by the pandemic. The air bridge flights carry essential medical equipment, humanitarian cargo and staff, and assist with repatriation flights organised by EU Member States. It provides humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable populations where the pandemic imposes further constraints on transport and logistics. All flights are funded by the European Union and operated in coordination with Member States and humanitarian organisation.
To the date, 45 Air Bridge flights have delivered over 1,100 tons of medical equipment and supplies, as well as 1,475 medical and humanitarian staff to critical areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America: to Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Sudan, South Sudan, Haiti, Somalia, Guinea Bissau, Iraq and Yemen.
Financial assistance and Humanitarian Relief for Haiti
To supply EU-funded humanitarian partners and assist national authorities in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, on 16 July an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flight delivered 72 tonnes of life-saving materials to Port-au-Prince. The EU is further supporting the most vulnerable in Haiti with an amount of €15 million in humanitarian funding, aimed at complementing national efforts in bringing relief to those affected by the coronavirus. The financial support will also contribute to the provision of emergency food and cash assistance, targeted protection, advocacy activities and disaster preparedness for vulnerable communities.
€64 million for the most vulnerable in Southern Africa
To help support those affected by the coronavirus pandemic, extreme weather conditions such as persistent drought, or other crises, on 20 July the Commission provided €64.7 million in humanitarian aid for countries in the southern Africa region. The beneficiary countries are Angola (€3 million), Botswana (€1.95 million), Comoros (€500,000), Eswatini (€2.4 million), Lesotho (€4.8 million), Madagascar (€7.3 million), Malawi (€7.1 million), Mauritius (€250,000), Mozambique (€14.6 million), Namibia (€2 million), Zambia (€5 million), Zimbabwe (€14.2 million) and Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique (€5 million). The funding will provide support to the coronavirus crisis response and preparedness of the national authorities. It will facilitate access to healthcare, protective equipment, sanitation and hygiene, and support early warning systems, evacuation plans for vulnerable communities and emergency stocks of personal protective equipment. The funding will also provide food assistance to vulnerable households in the affected areas, support for children’s education and training to teaching staff.
EU Humanitarian Air Bridge and € 70 million in aid for Yemen
On 23 July, in a collaborative effort of the EU and Sweden, an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flight delivered medical and other essential supplies to Yemen to reinforce humanitarian assistance in the country. In total, over 220 tons of critical items are being delivered to the most vulnerable Yemenis, to assist the country with the coronavirus response and enable the continuation of other humanitarian programmes. The EU is also allocating an additional € 70 million to Yemen, particularly for humanitarian actions dedicated to emergency civilian support (combating acute malnutrition and food insecurity, alleviating the effects of natural disaster and epidemics). This financial addition brings the EU humanitarian support to Yemen in 2020 to €115 million.
EU mobilises immediate support for the Western Balkans, Turkey and the EU surrounding regions
On 30 March, the European Commission announced that it will provide immediate support of up to €38 million for the Western Balkans to tackle the health emergency. €374 million has also been reallocated from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance to help the socio-economic recovery of the region. The Western Balkan countries will receive assistance to cover their immediate needs of medical devices and personal equipment, such as ventilators, laboratory kits, masks, goggles, gowns, and safety suits, and support their recovery.
On 2 July, the European Commission amended the regulation supporting countries and regions eligible to the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance for Cross-border Cooperation, The amendment of the Instrument will provide immediate support to the rapidly emerging needs in a flexible and effective way with regard to exposed sectors, such as healthcare or tourism under the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative and Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus packages. The revised and more flexible rules are contributing to the EU global response of the European Commission to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes the “Team Europe” package securing €800 million for the Western Balkans and Turkey.
The European Union stands by its Eastern partners
The European Commission stands by Eastern Partner countries and has announced the reallocation of €140 million for the most immediate needs in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine, as part of the global response to the coronavirus outbreak. In addition, the Commission will also redirect the use of existing instruments worth up to €700 million to help support the countries throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. These funds will support the supply of medical devices and protective equipment and to support businesses and jobs.
Assistance to Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia
To tackle the coronavirus pandemic, Ukraine has requested support from the European Union via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Protective facemasks, disinfectants, blankets and other items have been offered by Slovakia, while the European Union will coordinate and co-finance the delivery of this assistance to Ukraine. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism has already coordinated the delivery of assistance to 13 countries during the pandemic. On 26 June, in response to additional requests for assistance, Poland offered disinfectant, surgical masks, face shields and other personal protective equipment items to Ukraine and Moldova, and Denmark, essential medical equipment to Georgia. The transport and delivery of the in-kind assistance to these countries was coordinated and co-financed by the EU.
Assistance to Armenia
On 19 June, a team of medical experts from Lithuania mobilised via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism was deployed to Armenia. The team, made up of volunteers and members of the Lithuanian coronavirus crisis management team, will assist their Armenian colleagues in the fight against the coronavirus. . On 26 June, an Emergency Medical Team of 10 doctors and nurses from Italy was deployed on a mission to Armenia, via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, to provide further assistance. The EU coordinated and co-financed the transport of the medical teams to Armenia.
Assistance for Syria
To fight the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure that related humanitarian and medical assistance reaches those in need, even when sanctions are in place, the European Commission, on 12 May, published practical guidance for the facilitation of aid. The first guidance note, on Syria, provides comprehensive and practical guidelines on how how to comply with EU sanctions when providing humanitarian aid, in particular medical assistance, to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The guidance on Syria clarifies the aid-provision processes and responsibilities, aiming to facilitate the activity of humanitarian operators in Syria and speed up the channelling of equipment and assistance. It is addressed to all actors involved in the supply of humanitarian aid (authorities of EU Member States implementing the sanctions, public and private operators such as donors, NGOs, banks) who must all comply with the existing EU sanctions when providing assistance.
EU Humanitarian Air Bridge and €35 million in aid to Iraq
On July 27, to reinforce the humanitarian response in Iraq, a Humanitarian Air Bridge flight delivered over 40 tons of medical and emergency supplies to the country. The EU is also providing a €35 million humanitarian aid package to help victims of conflict and forced displacement in Iraq, and to support the authorities in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. EU humanitarian assistance in Iraq provides lifesaving assistance, such as emergency healthcare, shelter, access to safe water and sanitation, support to medical facilities and health care workers across Iraq, as well as the implementation of public health measures in camps. Since 2015, the EU has provided over €490 million in humanitarian aid to Iraq.
€55 million support package for Syria, Jordan and Lebanon
On 10 June, the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis mobilised an additional €55 million for refugees from Syria and vulnerable persons in Jordan and Lebanon, to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. The additional support package, part of the EU’s global response to the coronavirus outbreak, allocates €20.1 million to Jordan and €34.6 million to Lebanon - the two countries hosting the highest number of refugees per capita in the world. The funding will provide critical and targeted support in key areas such as health, water, sanitation and hygiene. This brings the total assistance mobilised through the EU Trust Fund to over €2.2 billion since 2015, doubling the target originally set.
Assistance to Bangladesh, Ecuador and El Salvador
To help tackle the global coronavirus pandemic and to limit the spread of the virus, the EU continues to provide assistance and support to those in need. On 28 July, the EU responded to requests from Bangladesh, Ecuador and El Salvador via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Medical supplies and protective equipment provided by France were delivered to the three countries via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
Assistance to Africa
On 8 May, the first EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flight to Bangui, operated in cooperation with France, transported humanitarian workers from various NGOs and 13 tonnes of humanitarian cargo to the Central African Republic. Two subsequent cargo flights transported some further 27 tonnes of supplies in total.
On 6 June, the first of three scheduled flights transported the first batch of essential supplies, as well as humanitarian aid workers to the Democratic Republic of Congo. A total of 40 tonnes of humanitarian cargo is delivered to the country, to help it fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The aid material includes water purifiers, nutritional support and general medical supplies; other supplies, such as laboratory equipment, masks, gloves and personal protective equipment, also intended to support the coronavirus response in the country, complementing the efforts of the national Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation, and in line with the country's response plan to the coronavirus.
29 flights of the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge have so far taken place, including to Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Iran, Nigeria, Sudan, Haiti and Somalia. Ongoing/upcoming confirmed destinations are South-Sudan, Yemen, Guinea Bissau and Iraq. Additional flights to Haiti and Somalia, and more countries will follow in the coming weeks.
To date, the air bridge has delivered more than 640 metric tons of vital medical and humanitarian equipment and transported over 1 300 medical and humanitarian staff and other passengers
€54 million to limit socio-economic risks in the Central African Republic
The European Commission will provide €54 million in support of the Central African Republic to help the government strengthen public spending exacerbated by the fight against the pandemic. As the Central African Government’s efforts for health actions have significantly increased the pressure on public finances, the European Union is assisting the national authorities with two budget support programmes, for state consolidation (€45 million) and security sector and governance reform (€9 million). Fountains and water supply sources have already been built in Bangui and Paoua, and the distribution of medical equipment and local production of masks has been stepped up (160,000 units).
EU Humanitarian aid to Somalia
On 5 July, the first of three Humanitarian Air Bridge flights from Brindisi, Italy, delivered humanitarian and medical supplies - personal protective equipment and medical material - to Somalia y. The flight, part of the EU's global response to the coronavirus pandemic, was put in place by the European Commission in cooperation with Italy. In total, the three flights will deliver 42 tonnes of aid to Mogadishu, to bring additional aid and relief to the Somali population.
The total support to Somalia in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic amounts to around €55 million. This funding helps to strengthen the health system, support the economy in these challenging times, train health staff and reinforce social support systems.
On 2 July, as part of the EU's global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the EU - through its Emergency Trust Fund for Africa - has adopted a new assistance package to protect migrants, stabilise local communities and respond to the coronavirus in North Africa. This package includes €80 million in new funds as well as €30 million reallocated from non-contracted actions under the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.
In line with the Joint Communication on the global EU response to the coronavirus, this new funding will also strengthen the immediate response capacity, reinforce the health systems and services in the North African partner countries, protect refugees and migrants and stabilise local communities.
Support to Libya
Libya remains the biggest beneficiary under the North of Africa window of the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, with €455 million in programmes, with the majority going to the protection of migrants and refugees and community stabilisation, alongside actions for border management.
Three new programmes adopted on 2 July will improve the resilience of both Libyans and migrants in the area of health following the coronavirus:
- A €30,2 million protection programme for health assistance, non-food items, emergency cash assistance and emergency evacuations outside of Libya (when travel restrictions are lifted);
- A specific €20 million coronavirus programme to strengthen the immediate response to the virus, including for personal protective equipment and training for health staff; the strengthening of laboratory capacities and intensive care response;
- A €25 million community stabilisation programme to continue to improve the living conditions in the Libyan municipalities by enhancing access to basic and social services.
Support to Tunisia
Adopted on 2 July, two new programmes will strengthen support to migrants and the most vulnerable groups in Tunisia as they are hard hit by the crisis:
- A €9,3 million governance and protection programme to provide protection services to vulnerable migrants, improve access to health services as well as to continue to support migration governance and to the Tunisian-led service for the reintegration of returnees hosted by the ‘Office des Tunisiens à l’étranger’ (OTE);
- A €5 million skills mobility programme built on two mobility agreements between France and Tunisia for young professionals and seasonal workers.
€60 million to support the Horn of Africa
On 17 June, the EU announced a €60 million package to support the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional organisation with eight member states in the Horn of Africa, to tackle the health and socio-economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The financial assistance will be channelled mainly in support of vulnerable groups, including migrants, refugees, displaced persons and cross-border communities, and will provide a wide range of medical and personal protective equipment, including million surgical masks, test kits and ambulances.
Support to Kenya
On 28 July, in response to a request from Kenya, the EU delivered vital medical supplies and protective equipment via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. A EU Humanitarian Air Bridge operated in cooperation with the Slovak government delivered to Kenya 20,000 protective face masks, 50,000 coronavirus test kits, hand disinfectant and laboratory supplies provided by Slovakia. On its return to Europe, the flight also repatriated stranded EU citizens.
Support to Burkina Faso
On June 22, the first of two Humanitarian Air Bridge flights to Burkina Faso delivered essential supplies and humanitarian workers to Ouagadougou to support the most vulnerable and contribute to the humanitarian response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. €162 million from the European Union and its Member States have been allocated to Burkina Faso as part of the EU's global response to the coronavirus pandemic. EU Humanitarian aid to Burkina Faso
Assistance to Sudan and South Sudan
On 24 June, the second of two Humanitarian Air Bridge flights to Sudan delivered essential supplies for those most vulnerable, to support humanitarian workers and aid with the coronavirus response in the country. The flight is fully EU-funded and operated through a coordinated Team Europe approach, bringing together the European Union, Sweden, France and the Humanitarian Logistics Network. Through the Global Response, €6 billion is dedicated to supporting countries in Africa, of which more than €120 million was mobilised in Sudan. To assist South Sudan in the fight against the coronavirus and bring relief to the country, on 29 July, a EU Humanitarian Air Bridge delivered essential medical equipment, providing much needed support to the ongoing humanitarian relief efforts.
Promoting digital solutions to tackle the coronavirus crisis
To pursue innovative responses to the global coronavirus pandemic, on 17 July the Commission announced a €10.4 million programme to promote digital solutions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. The programme will further be extended to additional Eastern and Southern African states and in the Indian Ocean region, aiming to improve the resilience of health and education systems in these countries. The funding will support e-learning and vocational training in the education sector, and will promote digital solutions to enhance the quality and efficiency of health services. To foster a stronger EU coordinated approach, the EU and Member States also established the Digital for Development Hub platform. This platform will bring together EU local tech companies, to work on affordability, connectivity and public access to private digital service solutions.
Assistance to Afghanistan
On 15 June, an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flight delivered 100 tonnes of life-saving material to Kabul, Afghanistan. The flight, fully funded by the European Union, is part of the Air Bridge flights to critical areas of the world. In addition, the EU also provided a new €39 million aid package to Afghanistan, to support the coronavirus response efforts of the national authorities, as well as to assist the victims of war, forced displacement and natural disasters. In 2019 and 2020, the Mechanism reached 400,000 people in all provinces through the delivery of aid such as clean water and access to sanitation services. EU humanitarian projects in Afghanistan focus on providing emergency healthcare, shelter, food assistance, access to clean water and sanitation facilities, as well as various protection services supporting women and children.
Early assistance to China
At the outset of the coronavirus outbreak in China, the European Commission acted swiftly and in full solidarity with China. It coordinated and co-financed the delivery of emergency medical supplies through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Over 56 tonnes of personal protective equipment (protective clothing, disinfectant and medical masks) were delivered to China, provided by France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Estonia, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia.
China is reciprocating the received assistance by delivering critical medical equipment to the most hard-hit EU Member States. On 6 April, a donation of protective equipment from China to the European Union arrived in Rome, following an agreement reached by President von der Leyen and Premier Li Kequiang. The distribution of 2 million surgical masks, 200,000 N95 masks and 50,000 testing kits delivered to Italy was coordinated by the Emergency Response Coordination Centre.