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Sahel food crisis– Commission scales up assistance and launches a Partnership for Resilience in Sahel

By European Union
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BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, June 18, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The European Commission is increasing its humanitarian funding to the Sahel by €40 million, bringing its response to the food crisis to €337 million. This extra funding comes just weeks before the food crisis is set to peak across the region where 18 million people are in danger from hunger.

The funding increase comes just as the European Commission is hosting a high level gathering on the Sahel hunger crisis. International donors, representatives from Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and Nigeria- as well as international and local organisations are attending. Among the delegates are Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Nancy Lindborg, the Assistant Administrator for Democracy at USAID.

The meeting aims to launch a new partnership on strengthening the resilience of the Sahel to future crises. The initiative, called AGIR Sahel (Alliance Globale pour l'Initiative Resilience), has one core aim: to make sure that the people in the Sahel can better cope with future droughts.

Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response said: "This funding is about saving lives in an emergency. It is our last chance to get to people when the crisis peaks. Right now people across the Sahel are starting to scrape the bottom of empty grain stores. Their only remaining options are to sell their animals, farm tools and eat the grain they should now be planting for the next harvest. This funding is aimed at preventing people having to make these desperate choices. The result is that they will be more resilient for future shocks that may occur".

Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs added: "In today's world, it is difficult to accept that some people don't have enough to eat. This can be prevented by working with Sahel countries and international partners to put in place sound agricultural systems to prevent future crisis. Yet such resilience cannot be built overnight. The AGIR Sahel Initiative will bring together all the key players in this challenge and give people in the region hope for a more stable future in the long term. The EU will play its part by focusing its aid on agriculture and food security in the coming years. This is one of the key foundation on which we can build sustainable and inclusive growth".

Part of the meeting will be web-streamed on Monday through this link (morning session) and this link (concluding session).

EU Commissioners Kristalina Georgieva and Andris Piebalgs, together with other participants, will hold a press point at 1pm at the VIP Corner of the Berlaymont's building.

The press point can be followed live on EbS website (http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/ebs/live.cfm?page=1)