The international humanitarian situation is worrying. According to the most recent data from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of refugees reached a new record level last year: almost 70 million people worldwide. The humanitarian crises in Syria and its neighbouring countries, in Yemen and in parts of Africa have been going on for several years. The need for humanitarian assistance is constantly rising – it currently amounts to 23.5 billion US dollars globally – while the funding shortfall is also growing. It is therefore all the more important to coordinate humanitarian assistance efficiently. On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Maas met EU Commissioner Christos Stylianides in Berlin to discuss the cooperation between Germany and the EU in the area of humanitarian assistance.
A joint focus on forgotten humanitarian crises
In addition to the well-documented major international crises, support is needed especially for those humanitarian emergencies that are not in the public eye. In his talks with the EU Commissioner, Foreign Minister Maas also discussed trouble spots in Africa that currently attract very little public attention. Another example of an almost forgotten crisis can be found at the heart of Europe: the conflict in eastern Ukraine continues to severely affect the lives of the people there. According to United Nations estimates, more than three million people in Ukraine are dependent on humanitarian aid, in the form of food, water, medical supplies and basic everyday items. More than three million people have fled eastern Ukraine – some to neighbouring countries, others within Ukraine. Moreover, the number of people falling victim to mines is dramatically increasing.
What Germany is doing
Germany has become the largest bilateral donor for tackling the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, providing a total of 74 million euros in aid since 2014. In 2017 alone, more than 23 million euros were provided for various aid projects, including those of Caritas, the German Red Cross and the World Food Programme. Ukraine will remain a focus of German humanitarian assistance and humanitarian mine clearance in 2018. The Federal Government will fund projects to help the suffering population there and will press for humanitarian access to areas controlled by the separatists. ECHO is supplementing these efforts with aid projects.
The Federal Foreign Office and a group of German aid organisations have also launched the #nichtvergesser initiative to draw attention to neglected humanitarian crises. The one in Ukraine is among them – a humanitarian crisis right here in Europe.
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Many humanitarian crises unfold far from the public eye. With the #nichtvergesser campaign, the Federal Foreign Office and aid organisations are drawing people’s attention to this issue.
An armed conflict is being fought right here in Europe. Millions of people are still living in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, reliant on humanitarian assistance. Another cold winter is coming. Germany is doing what it can, as the largest bilateral donor for the people in Ukraine.