Tag Archives: COVID19

COVID19: Urpilainen announces €55M Kenya aid

“Team Europe stands by Kenya during Covid-19 with €55m package of support. €25m to ensure #SafeTrade at borders and to support #SMEs with affordable loans to stay afloat, €30M in budget support to #GoK to create space for priority public expenditure in response to pandemic” EU Commisisoner Jutta Urpilainen announced.

Kenyan relevant authorities announced 134 new positive cases on June 5, and 2,474 total confirmed cases, 51 new recoveries, 643 Total discharged and recovered, total 79 fatalities.

EU reinforces humanitarian aid

The European Commission proposes €14.8 billion for humanitarian aid, of which €5 billion come from the European Union Recovery Instrument to reinforce the humanitarian aid.

The increased budget reflects the growing humanitarian needs in the most vulnerable parts of the world. The Humanitarian Aid Instrument will provide needs-based delivery of EU assistance to save and preserve lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and dignity of populations affected by natural hazards or man-made crises.

A significantly enhanced Solidarity and Emergency Aid Reserve will reinforce EU action in response to all aspects of the health crisis, as well as other emergencies. Funds can be channelled to provide emergency support as and when needed through EU instruments such as humanitarian aid in cases where funding under dedicated programmes proves insufficient.

Botswana repatriates citizens

Botswana will undertake efforts to repatriate citizens stranded abroad due to coronavirus travel bans, with more than 100 travellers to arrive on June 3 from Ethiopia, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said on Saturday, May 30.

In order to alleviate the plight of our citizens abroad who have been adversely impacted by the pandemic, mostly students and those affected by the global travel bans, we have decided to assist them with financial assistance to either cope where they are or to return them home,” Masisi said in a speech, transmitted by TV channels.

Masisi said the government has already helped 400 people to return from South Africa and neighbouring countries.

Botswana medics have established 35 coronavirus cases, one of patients died.

However in spite of the relatively low contamination cases rate the economy has been severely hit, with real gross domestic product forecast to contract by 13% in 2020.

Botswana ended a 48-day lockdown a week ago, allowing businesses and schools to reopen under strict conditions but its borders are still closed with only returning citizens and essential goods allowed in.

At present the toursitic industry operators reamin trapped between clients requesting their money back, and accommodation in safari lodges reluctant to return deposits. This has caused serious cash flow problems.

The proposal of a voucher or credit for the future trips do not convene many clients,
explainging they found themselves in a financially fragile situaiton, and they are not sure they will be able to afford the luxury trip to Botswana natural resorts in the future.

As a result the Botswana communities has been suffering a serious economic set back caused by absence of toursits, who were the major consumers of local services of guides, drivers, restaurants, traditional crafts, and souvenirs, and other endeavours related to the touristic industry infrastructure.

Africa’s tourism industry in general has been hard hit by coronavirus lockdowns. Overnight, hotel bookings were canceled, safaris postponed and cultural tours abandoned. The operators are struggling to stay afloat in hope the tourists will come back soon.

COVID19: EU supports Africa women

European Commission among the other prominent international players has been alarmed by the rising levels of violence against women and girls, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic confinement measures but also following the social-economic stress and insecurity that many families have to face.

In sub-Saharan Africa women are disproportionally more exposed to both health and economic risks, and this is linked to their roles and responsibilities in their communities or society as a whole. Unfortunately, according to available statistics the threat of child marriage is also greater when communities are affected by shocks like disease outbreak, when all the referral systems to prevent and respond to gender-based violence may underperform.

Responding to the significance attributed by the EU to gender equality and women and girls empowerment, including Africa, the European Commission currently invests in around 40 ongoing projects targeting or contributing to the elimination of violence against women and girls on the African continent amounting to approximately €310 million. The most significant one for a total amount of €250 million is the Spotlight Initiative (Africa envelope), – the largest global programme to eliminate violence against women and girls, with an initial investment of €500 million, launched in September 2017. The Initiative aims at eliminating all forms of VAWG in partner countries from five regions: Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Caribbean and Pacific.

In Sub Saharan Africa the objective is to prevent, combat and prosecute sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls, including the elimination of harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation. The programme is implemented in eight African countries (Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe) for a total amount of €220 million.

The African regional programme complements eight countries programmes with a substantive allocation of €30 million. An allocation of 10% of the overall Africa investment budget supports the women’s movement which is implemented by two existing UN Trust Funds (the UN Women Peace and Humanitarian Fund, and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women and Girls).

According to the EU officials, following the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the Commission is adapting and refocusing the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to identify risk factors related to pandemic context and to respond to critical needs. Efforts are currently focussing on ensuring swift action to counter increased domestic violence, boost prevention, support survivors and support civil society organisations.

The EU supports the scale-up of existing hotlines, shelters and equipping health, police, justice and social protection sectors for women and girls. One good example is Mozambique, where Spotlight Initiative funding is being used to strengthen the preparedness of staff working in health centres and shelters to better assist victims. Protective gear and hygiene material is being supplied in these centres and shelters. Spotlight also supports police in better responding to violence cases by providing transport and mobile phones.

Other projects are mainly implemented by Civil Society Organisations (NGO). The EU contribution to these projects is close to €60 million, and they are implemented across the African continent.

The inclusion of the prevention of and response to gender-based violence, and is aligned to COVID-19 national prevention and containment measures, is the EU ongoing mission, for example, in Uganda, a consortium led by CARE Denmark, in partnership with other three international and four national NGOs, working on empowerment, accountability and leadership for refugees and host communities, will continue to provide prevention and response services to survivors of gender-based violence and work on other protection issues.

Experiences of past epidemics lead to conclusion that intimate partner violence and sexual exploitation and abuse increase during these periods. Based on this knowledge CARE and partners have adapted the assistance: case management will be provided remotely, while social workers stationed at the health facilities will support gender-based violence screening. For high risk cases, face-to-face interactions will continue, while maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene precautions. The EU’s humanitarian contribution to this action is €2.3 million. In 2019, it is estimated that the EU allocated approximately €26 million of its humanitarian aid budget to the prevention and response to gender-based violence worldwide.

Most EU-funded projects to eliminate violence against women and girls are implemented in partnership with the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) or with international organisations. When the European Commission works with international organisations, the European civil servants also often work with CSOs. For the Spotlight Initiative it is foreseen that at country level, 30-50% should be delivered through CSOs. CSOs also play a crucial role in the design and the governance of the Spotlight Initiative, at national, regional and global level.

Following the COVID crisis, the EU is also providing flexible support to women’s organisations and grassroots organisations, including the much needed core funding. In this context, the EU in close collaboration with the UN is re-directing around €15 million to support and ensure business continuity of CSOs and mitigate challenges and risks linked to the COVID-19 crisis through two above mentioned UN Trust Funds. In the short term, the funds support activités to counter the increase of domestic violence under COVID-19 crisis, prevention, support to survivors, including Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), and help provide a lifeline to women’s organisations, CSOs working on gender-based violence related issues.

The Commission adopted its Communication on a global response to COVID-19 in April 2020. This “Team Europe” response is a joint effort between the European Union, its member states and European financial institutions to mobilise resources to support partner countries’ efforts in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

In order to ensure a comprehensive response, the EU’s response includes both urgent, short-term emergency measures, and more medium to long-term measures such as research and health systems strengthening (right to health), and mitigating the economic and social impact.

The response also includes social protection actions, addressing all inequalities and non-discrimination and promotion of human rights. The Communication recalls the importance “to promote and uphold good governance, human rights, the rule of law, gender equality and non-discrimination, decent work conditions, as well as fundamental values and humanitarian principles”.

EU additional €50M aid across world

Today the European Commission announced an additional €50 million in humanitarian aid to help respond to the dramatic increase in humanitarian needs caused by the Coronavirus pandemic globally. The new funding follows increased appeals by humanitarian organisations, including the UN Global Appeal.

The new funding will help vulnerable people facing major humanitarian crises, notably in the Sahel and Lake Chad region, the Central African Republic, the Great Lakes region in Africa, Eastern Africa, Syria, Yemen, Palestine and Venezuela, as well as the Rohingya. It will provide access to health services, protective equipment, water and sanitation. It will be channelled through non-governmental organisations, international organisations, United Nations agencies, and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

“The Coronavirus pandemic is creating a humanitarian crisis of an enormous scale in some of the most fragile countries in the world. The pandemic threatens food security in countries where public health systems were already weak before this new crisis. We must act now to leave no area of the world unprotected. This is in our common interest. And it is crucial that humanitarian actors continue to have the access to carry out their life-saving work,” Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, said.

The €50 million allocation comes in addition to significant humanitarian funding and actions already provided by the European Commission to respond to the most pressing needs created by the Coronavirus pandemic:

In February 2020, €30 million was allocated to the World Health Organization. Since then, the Commission has, subject to the agreement of the EU budgetary authorities,planned around €76 million to programmes included in the United Nations Global Humanitarian Response Plan. In addition, the Commission is providing direct funding for the work of humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement, which are in the frontline of the humanitarian response to Coronavirus.

Previously, on 8 May, the Commission also announced the establishment of an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge to transport humanitarian workers and emergency supplies for the Coronavirus response to some of the most critically affected areas around the world. The first flight on 8 May, operated in cooperation with France, transported around 60 humanitarian workers from various NGOs and UN agencies and 13 tonnes of humanitarian cargo to Bangui in the Central African Republic. Two subsequent humanitarian cargo flights to Central African Republic will transport a further 27 tonnes of humanitarian supplies in total.

On 15 May, on the second destination of the EU humanitarian air bridge 20 tons of supplies and humanitarian and health workers were flown to the West-African country of São Tomé and Principe. The flight was set-up in cooperation with the Portuguese government and several humanitarian partner organisations. On their return leg, the flight also brought back over 200 EU citizens and other passengers to Lisbon in a repatriation effort.

The additional humanitarian funding comes on top of some €20 billion in development and emergency funding from the Commission and Member States for both short-term and long-term needs around the world as part of a “Team Europe” approach.

COVID19: EU aid to Central African Republic

Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, is travelling today to Bangui on the first flight and will meet H.E. Faustin-Archange Touadéra, President of the Central African Republic, as well as humanitarian organisations.

The European Commission has set up an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge to transport humanitarian workers and emergency supplies for the coronavirus response to some of most critical areas around the world.

Leaving any area of the world unprotected today leaves us all unprotected tomorrow. As part of our global response, the EU will open a dedicated Humanitarian Air Bridge to get aid into areas which lack supplies due to the difficulties of global transit. This can be a lifeline for some of the most vulnerable communities worldwide” Commissioner Janez Lenarčič said.

The first EU flight, operated in cooperation with France, is departing from Lyon airport and will transport around 60 humanitarian workers from various NGOs and 13 tonnes of humanitarian cargo. Two subsequent humanitarian cargo flights will follow in the coming days to transport a further 27 tonnes of humanitarian supplies in total. On their return leg, the Air Bridge flights will also bring back EU citizens and other passengers from the Central African Republic in a repatriation effort.

More EU humanitarian flights are being scheduled for the coming weeks, prioritising African countries where the pandemic has the potential to worsen many existing humanitarian crises.

EU committed to stablity of Ethiopia

“The EU is a committed and reliable partner of Ethiopia, and we attach great importance to the stability and unity of the country, which is crucial for the whole of Horn of Africa the European External Action Service (EEAS) spokesperson said, commenting on the recent political events in the country in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 7 the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali made an announcement that the ruling party will stay in charge until next elections, while the election calendar was postponed due to sanitary conditions, and Tigray region refused to follow.

Africa’s second most populous (115M) country was due to hold national elections in August 29, and the incumbent Prime minister Abiy Ahmed Ali hoped would give him a mandate for wide-ranging political and economic reforms people are awaiting for long.

However the election board announced in late March that it would be impossible to organise the polls on time because of the pandemic.

The EU have been following closely the recent political developments in the country, and has “taken note” of the swift decision of the House of People’s Representatives to ask the Constitutional explanations of the postponement of the elections, the EEAS spokesperson ensured.

“We encourage and support the inclusive and comprehensive dialogue of all political parties at federal and regional level in order to organise the next elections in a coordinated way” the spokesperson of the EU diplomacy continued. She also underlined that the EU intended to deploy the EU Election observation mission (EUEOM) for the general elections, “in this context we pay special attention to the conditions of the organisation of elections throughout the electoral process”.

The events in Tigray region became a matter of concern after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) announced plans to conduct elextions in Tigray region despite of the federal government decision of postponemet. In relation to this decision of Tigray region leading political force the EU diplomacy “have taken note of the declaration of the Tigray’s People Liberation Front (TPLF) to hold elections in the region, the EU delegation of the ground in Addis Abeba has regular contacts with TPLF, and is seeking the clarifications on this declaration” the spokesperson underlined.

The EU diplomacy is also fully aware that the decision to hold regional elections separately from the general election has been debated in the country by legal and constiutuional experts, and the “European Union is encouraging and supporting the inclusive and comprehensive dialogue of political parties of both level – national and regional” the spokesperson underlined.

Citing the CVOID-19 pandemic as the reason for the calendar change, last month on March 31 the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) postponed indefinitely the legislative elections scheduled for August 29. The supporters of the decision, mostly from the incumbent government, have expressed consent, while the opposition condemned the decision defining it as a “power-grab“. They also indicated that the later date would not take into account poor rain season weather conditions and agricultural activities, complicating electoral campaign.

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