EU doubles Sahel humanitarian aid to EUR 95m
(BRUSSELS) - The EU said Wednesday it is doubling humanitarian aid to Africa's Sahel area to 95 million euros in a "race against time" to lift two million people facing food shortages out of danger.
Crisis reponse commissioner Kristalina Georgieva announced the funding during a trip to Niger and Chad, according to a statement from the European Commission headquarters in Brussels.
The latest funding, equivalent to $121 million, comes on top of a 10-million-euro package of food aid announced in November.
As many as 23 million people in Niger, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and Burkina Faso began 2012 facing "huge uncertainty about how they will feed themselves and their families," according to the European Union executive.
Those most at risk and targeted by the aid include nearly 300,000 children under the age of two and pregnant and breastfeeding women.
More than a third of the money will be directed at Niger.
"We are now in a race against time," said Georgieva, appealing to the international community to step up its contribution.
Brussels says a "conservative estimate" of the required funding needs would be half a billion euros. Long-term Commission aid should reach 250 million euros.
Erratic rainfall across the Sahel and increased rice prices on global markets combined to leave seven million people at "high risk" of food insecurity in 2012.
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