On Monday (23 January), Foreign Minister Steinmeier received World Food Programme Executive Director Ertharin Cousin at the Federal Foreign Office. In the afternoon, the German Foreign Minister also met with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. The meetings focused on the world’s humanitarian crises, the state of the humanitarian system and the Federal Government’s current aid efforts.
Germany’s most important partners for humanitarian aid
At a joint press conference with the head of the World Food Programme and the UNHCR, Steinmeier praised their close cooperation. He spoke of Cousin and Grandi as “the directors of our two most important partners for humanitarian aid”. The German Foreign Minister highlighted the significant role that the staff of these two institutions plays in trouble spots around the world, by providing assistance under difficult conditions.
Germany is the second largest donor of humanitarian aid
Steinmeier went on to say that the Federal Foreign Office’s funds for humanitarian aid currently amount to some 1.2 billion euros. Since 2013, funding has been increased sixfold, he added. This makes Germany the world’s second-largest bilateral donor country.
In their statements, Cousin and Grandi expressed their thanks for Germany’s humanitarian aid efforts in general, and in particular for the support that Germany provides to their respective institutions. Regarding Germany’s support for the World Food Programme and the UNHCR, Steinmeier said it is provided “in good conscience ... because we know they are doing professional work, and that the aid gets to where it is needed”.
Meeting addressed the situation in Syria
Today’s talks also addressed the situation in Syria. “There remains a large need for humanitarian aid,” the German Foreign Minister said. He went on to say that Germany is offering to assume responsibility by co‑hosting a conference on Syria in April. The international community must actively work to accelerate the search for political solutions. The current talks in Astana can only be an “intermediate step,” Steinmeier insisted, “because a political solution for Syria can only be found in Geneva, with the participation of the International Syria Support Group.”
Staying focused on crises in Africa
The agenda also included discussions on crises that normally do not receive much attention in the media. South Sudan, Somalia, the Lake Chad region and Burundi were discussed. “That is why last year we more than doubled our funding for Africa, whereby we were able to provide an additional 150 million euros,” Steinmeier said. The UNHCR and the World Food Programme remain key partners of Germany, also for efforts to aid Africa.