Tag Archives: EU

Borrell enhances efforts to protect refugees

«A new report by @Refugees shows that thousands of refugees and migrants continue to be victims of widespread and extreme abuses. The EU will enhance further its efforts to address these dramatic situations and protect these persons from the criminal bands that prey on them» the European Union top diplomat Josep Borrell tweeted via his micro blog.

The spokesperson of the European Commission has clarified that the Tweet refered to the «dramatic sitution» caused by activities of the criminal bands, meaning the reiteration of the engagement, and underlining the will to increase the efforts «until the problem is solved».

«Fighting the human traffickers, and smugglers is not the only way, because there are several layers to support people, and prevent them from making this dangerous journeys, and we have been discussing this too, that we need to tackle the root causes of the migration, we need to cooperate with the countries of origin, and transit, and this is ongoing, and we are willing to enhance the cooperation even more to achieve results in terms of reducing the numbers of people, who are embarking on this journeys, reducing the number of people, who are forced to leave their homes, and make sure that those who leave are not exposed to this disgraceful and outrageous treatment, and exploitation by the smugllers and traffickers» the spokesperson has underlined.

The EU has already made the steps before, the spokesperson has reminded, mentioning the operation IRINI, to cut the flow of weapons to Libya, to enhance the UN arms embargo, but this opeation is also has a secondary task to deal with migration and fight against the smugglers. The EU has been undertaking measures, and taking steps, and is determined to continue fighting this “dramatic” situation of the refugees and migrants, the spokesperson concluded.

Image: Josep BORRELL

#COVID19: Algeria exclused from EU safe travel list

The European Union is set to exclude Algeria from its safe list of countries from which the bloc allows non-essential travel after a meeting of EU ambassadors on July 29, Reuters news agency reports, refering to the European diplomatic sources.

The list of countries will fall to 11, assuming the provisional decision is confirmed in writing by EU members, two EU diplomats familiar with the discussions said. The deadline for submissions was likely to be on July 30 afternoon.

The safe countries deemed to have COVID-19 largely under control are Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Tunisia and Uruguay.

China has also been provisionally approved, although travel would only open up if Chinese authorities also allowed in EU visitors.

EU: Mali National Assembly enables way out of crisis

Presidents from five West African countries arrive in Mali on July 23 in an attempt to negotiate an end to a political crisis that affected the country and raised concerns it could undermine a regional security, and ongoing struggle against jihadists armed groups.

Endemic corruption, disputed local election results and army losses to jihadists cause massive indignation of Malians, when tens of thousands have taken to the streets,  clashing with police. The episodes of urban violence caused death of protesters in July, according to the United Nations.

The opposition, a group called M5-RFP  led by Saudi-trained Muslim cleric Mahmoud Dicko, announced it will not quit until President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita steps down, raising concerns in neighboring countries of a protracted political crisis.

M5-RFP demands the resignation of Keita or the satisfaction of our demands,” which include the establishment of a committee of inquiry into civilian deaths and a transitional government, the spokesperson Nouhoum Togo told international reporters.

The leaders of Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Ghana and Niger will meet with Keita and then Dicko and other opposition leaders at a hotel in the capital Bamako, according to the mission schedule.

They are concerned of the danger a destabilisation of Mali poses to the entire region of Sahel,  plagued by activities of militia linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State attacking neighbouring countries including Niger and Burkina Faso.

Public opposition to Keita has changed to harder tones after protesters were killed by police in early July.

The M5-RFP rejected mediation measures proposed by a mission from the West African ECOWAS bloc last week.

The European diplomacy has issued a statement, supporting the African Union efforts to find a solution for the protracted political crisis:

“The good offices mission of President Goodluck Jonathan, at the head of an ECOWAS delegation in Bamako, made it possible to move forward towards a framework of concrete and politically balanced solutions.

“The European Union joins the African Union Declaration of July 21 and encourages all political actors and civil society to fully engage in the implementation of the recommendations of the ECOWAS mission. The re-establishment of a legitimate National Assembly and a Government of National Union will enable Mali to overcome the current crisis.

“The European Union deplores the large number of deaths and injuries following the demonstrations in Bamako on Friday July 10 and the following days. It offers its condolences to the relatives of the victims, calls for an investigation to be carried out as soon as possible and for legal proceedings to be taken against those responsible”.

EU €65M aid to South Africa region

The European Commission is providing €64.7 million in humanitarian aid for countries in the southern Africa region to help support people in need dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, extreme weather conditions such as persistent drought in the region and other crises.

The EU is helping to provide life-saving assistance to impoverished households suffering from crop and livestock losses due to drought. The aid package will also strengthen the preparation and response to the coronavirus pandemic for countries in the region. In parallel, the EU is helping communities better prepare for natural hazards and reduce their impact” Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, said.

Funding from this aid package will go for humanitarian projects in Angola (€3 million), Botswana (€1.95 million), Comoros (€500,000), Eswatini (€2.4 million), Lesotho (€4.8 million), Madagascar (€7.3 million), Malawi (€7.1 million), Mauritius (€250,000), Mozambique (€14.6 million), Namibia (€2 million), Zambia (€5 million) and Zimbabwe (€14.2 million). A further €1.6 million is allocated to regional disaster preparedness actions.

The funding targets are food assistance to vulnerable households and helping farmers in the affected areas restore their means of subsistence;
– coronavirus prevention and preparedness actions to support local health systems and facilitate access to health care, protective equipment, sanitation and hygiene;
-disaster preparedness projects that also cover new needs brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. They include strengthening early warning systems and evacuation plans for communities at risk of natural hazards to having emergency stocks of personal protective equipment;
– support for children’s education and providing training to teaching staff.
Given the serious deterioration of the security situation in Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique, €5 million will support vulnerable people in the area.

The humanitarian aid assistance announced today comes on top of the more than €67 million allocated to the region in 2019 following the impact of the two cyclones, drought, and the economic and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.

The southern Africa region has had just one normal rainy season in the last five years, with the last quarter of 2019 being one of the ten driest since 1981 for most areas, causing largescale livestock losses and damaging harvests. In many places, the current growing season is exceptionally hot and dry, while in several other parts of the region, erratic rains risk undermining harvests in 2020. In some countries, this burden comes on top of already-crippling economic woes.

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to compound already significant humanitarian needs in the region.

EU €24M aid to Uganda

The EU will provide €24 million in humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable people in Uganda in 2020, with a special focus on refugees and their host communities. In addition, the EU has also channelled €1 million to aid organisations in Uganda to support the coronavirus preparedness and control measures, in line with the national response plan to the pandemic.

“EU humanitarian support in Uganda is making a difference to the lives of many refugees who have fled South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. EU aid will provide food and health assistance, access to water and sanitation, as well as education programmes. We remain committed to continuing our support in Uganda, all the more so in these challenging times” said Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič.

EU-funded humanitarian projects in Uganda are also adapting to the new challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. For example, EU funded radio talk shows are raising awareness about the coronavirus and other key issues, such as child protection. Other humanitarian projects provide access to health care and in epidemics control and prevention. EU support has also helped more than 20,000 children benefit from education programmes.

EU humanitarian support in Uganda goes hand in hand with longer-term development strategies to find durable solutions and support the self-reliance of refugees and their inclusion in social protection schemes.

Uganda hosts 1.4 million refugees, one of the largest refugee populations in Africa. The country applies a progressive refugee policy, which is, however, under increasing pressure due to the scale of the crisis, and overstretched services. EU humanitarian funding is helping to address the immediate life-saving needs of refugees and host communities in line with the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework as implemented in Uganda.

Libya: Borrell on foreign interfiernece

The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell insisted on need to «stop all interferences fuelling the conflict and join forces to support an inclusive, Libyan-owned and Libyan-led process leading to a political solution». In the statement on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya he said the following:

«…The protracted conflict in Libya caused immense suffering for all Libyans and has become a major challenge for the region and ultimately the international community.

https://twitter.com/euatun/status/1280976520597639168?s=21

As European Union, we believe it is high time to put an end to this military conflict, right on our doorstep, and manage a proper transition in Libya. We must preserve the country as one single Libya -a united, stable, prosperous and reliable partner for all.

This meeting brings together all countries which have the capacity, if genuinely committed, to contribute to a political transition in Libya. We all took strong commitments in the Berlin conference in January; it is now time to translate our words into concrete actions. We need to work collectively, under a strong United Nations leadership, to implement truly the conclusions of Berlin, which everybody accepted. The polarisation, which has turned Libya into a theatre of proxy wars, needs to stop. Actions in support of one or the other Libyan party fuel the conflict, and some constitute clear provocations. Unilateral initiatives go against the spirit of the consensual international dialogue which Libya urgently needs and which we need to encourage.

“…We must go back to our Berlin-commitments, starting with the enforcement of the United Nations arms embargo, which unfortunately continues to be violated on all sides and every day, in all impunity, as we heard from the United Nations and as Heiko [Maas, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany] has recalled. And we need a collective effort to favour the return of the Libyan parties to the negotiating table, starting with the UN-led 5+5 military talks to reach an agreement on a sustainable ceasefire. And we support the initiative to de-militarise the conflict around Sirte and Jufra.

We, the European Union, are doing our part. I have promoted a strong European Union commitment to the Berlin process, to respect and implement what we all agreed. That is why we launched Operation Irini, with core tasks to implement the United Nations arms embargo and to stop the flow of weapons into Libya, as well as to monitor oil smuggling. We are reporting regularly to the United Nations Panel of Experts on the basis of the mandate given by the United Nations Security Council. It is also clear that control of arms flow into Libya requires action beyond the maritime domain. But for that, the United Nations Security Council should enlarge the mandate.

As co-chair of the Economic group, we also hope to find a sustainable solution for the exploitation of oil resources in Libya, a key issue in the conflict, which is directly linked to the increasing build-up of presence in Sirte. And that is of utmost importance, all of the European help to Libya is the equivalent of the oil revenues that Libya could generate in one week.

Later this month, we will co-host the next international follow-up committee on Libya, where these discussions can continue».

EU supports East Africa in locust outbreak

The EU has mobilised a further €15 million to support the United Nations and partner countries in the fight against one of the worst desert locust outbreaks seen in East Africa in decades.

The desert locust outbreak has had a devastating impact on food security in an already vulnerable region. Efforts to halt the spread of the locust infestation have been further strained due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is why the EU is increasing its support to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) response plan and will support broader EU development cooperation and humanitarian assistance in the region.

Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “Our friends and partners in the Horn of Africa have experienced the catastrophic consequences of this desert locust outbreak on livelihoods and food security, a situation that is aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic which has made intervention efforts more difficult. Earlier this year we demonstrated the need to react quickly to combat the outbreak. Today’s decision to increase our support shows we are determined to continue our action to tackle food insecurity as a founding member of the Global Network Against Food Crises.”

The decision coincided with an Informal Ministerial on the Horn of Africa hosted by Finland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Pekka Haavisto, and attended by Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen; African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smaїl Chergui; UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary A. DiCarlo and IGAD Executive Secretary Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu.

The FAO has formulated a response plan, but given the continued desert locust crisis, country interventions must be scaled up to support national governments of the affected countries. The EU, together with partners in the region, is committed to containing this outbreak, anticipating its impacts on food and nutrition security and protecting the livelihoods of millions of vulnerable people across Eastern Africa and beyond.

The EU’s €15 million contribution announced today comes in addition to €42 million mobilised in early 2020 for a broad humanitarian-development approach in the region.

The desert locust is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world. Crop and food losses in affected areas can be enormous, generating direct dramatic negative impacts on agriculture and livelihoods. Local food markets can also be affected, as food availability declines, impacting on an already vulnerable population through spikes to food prices.

The situation in East Africa has rapidly deteriorated, where 27.5 million people suffer from severe food insecurity and at least 35 million more are at risk. Weather conditions have been unusually conducive to the breeding and further spreading of locusts. Damage to crop and pasture have been devastating across Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia and the outbreak may spread to neighbouring countries, particularly Djibouti, Eritrea, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Yemen, Sudan, Iran, India and Pakistan are also at risk.

The FAO’s response plan estimates that around €206 million will be required for the most urgent activities for both desert locust control and agricultural livelihood protection and recovery.

EU-Italy provide aid to Somalia

“The EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flight arrived in Mogadishu from Brindisi, Italy, carrying humanitarian and medical supplies provided by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Italian civil society organisations and international NGOs. Two other flights to Somalia will take off from Brindisi in the coming days, with additional material on board, bringing the total of cargo to 42 tonnes.

“This EU Humanitarian Air Bridge operation will support the coronavirus response in Somalia with personal protective equipment and medical material. In addition, the flights are helping humanitarian organisations transport supplies needed to reinforce their projects in the recently flood-hit areas in Somalia. Given the urgency of the needs, the EU accorded utmost importance that these flights are operated at the earliest possibility,” Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, said.

“This EU Humanitarian Air Bridge operation is a tangible demonstration of a functioning and efficient Team Europe approach, strongly supported by Italy. The Italian Cooperation has a long-standing presence in Somalia, and through this important joint operation, and also thanks to all participating partners and to the collaboration of the humanitarian hub in Brindisi, we can bring additional aid and relief to the Somali population” Emanuela C. Del Re, Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said.

The EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flights to Somalia have been put in place thanks to a cooperation between the European Commission and Italy. The flights are being facilitated by the Humanitarian Logistics Network and have been organised in coordination with the Somali authorities and the Delegation of the European Union in Mogadishu. The totality of the transport costs are financed by the European Commission, humanitarian organisations provide the cargo.

The EU Humanitarian Air Bridge operations form part of the EU’s global response to the coronavirus pandemic within the ‘Team Europe’ approach, bringing together the EU and its Member States. The total Team Europe’s support to Somalia in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic amounts to around €55 million. This funding helps to strengthen the health system, support the economy in these challenging times, train health staff and reinforce social support systems. As part of this package, the EU just announced a €5.85 million development programme to enhance coronavirus preparedness, response, and mitigation for internally displaced people (IDPs) and people living in the most vulnerable situations in Mogadishu. This programme will be based on previous and ongoing work on long-lasting solutions under the EU Trust Fund for Africa that support the city administration to deliver basic services in IDP settlements.

Somalia has suffered for decades from prolonged conflict combined with extreme weather, especially recurrent droughts and floods. Against a background of widespread poverty, it is now also facing the worst desert locust infestation in 25 years and a rapidly escalating coronavirus outbreak.https://twitter.com/fabiomassimo85/status/1279865042578616322?s=21

Towards stronger EU-Africa partnership

The Council today approved conclusions on Africa, restating the paramount importance of a stronger EU-Africa partnership.

The conclusions note that Joint Communication Towards a comprehensive strategy with Africa constitutes an excellent basis on which to initiate a new ambitious partnership with Africa. The next EU-AU Summit will be a pivotal moment for renewing a comprehensive joint strategic approach that delivers on these aspirations.

The conclusions underline that a prosperous, peaceful and resilient Africa is an essential EU foreign policy objective, and that the EU is determined to strengthen its relationship with the African states and the African Union, in a way that is responsive both to European and African aspirations.

Such closer partnership should focus in particular on: multilateralism, peace, security and stability, sustainable and inclusive development, and sustainable economic growth.

The conclusions highlight that the COVID-19 pandemic has further demonstrated the need for a global response and a strong EU-Africa partnership. Recovery is an opportunity to build back better, greener and more resilient societies.

Finally the conclusions highlight that, working towards a joint strategy based on common objectives, the EU looks forward to stepping up an open and inclusive exchange with citizens, civil society, diaspora, young people, the private sector and top-level thinkers and decision-makers from both continents.

Image: archive Europa building, Brussels

EU diplomacy on Malawi elections

Tomorrow, on 23 June 2020, the Malawian people will vote in fresh presidential elections after a protracted but constitutionally determined process. Malawi has a distinguished history of promoting and consolidating inclusive democracy, including by ensuring full respect of the constitutional mandates of national institutions, the statement of the European External Actions Service (EEAS) spokesperson reads.

The European Union joins the African Union in calling upon the Malawi Electoral Commission, all political parties, candidates and their supporters to create conditions for a credible, inclusive, transparent and peaceful election and to refrain from any act of violence.

The European Union will work with all actors in Malawi and with its partners, in particular the United Nations and the African Union, in accompanying this democratic process.

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