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#EUHumanitarianBudget for 2020 to help people in over 80 countries

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On 20 January, the Commission adopted its initial annual humanitarian budget for 2020 worth €900 million. The EU is the leading global humanitarian aid donor and helps people in over 80 countries.

"EU humanitarian aid allows us to save millions of lives worldwide, putting EU global solidarity into action. Yet humanitarian crises are increasing in complexity and severity. Even though conflict remains the main cause of hunger and displacement, its impact has become seriously worsened by climate change. Europe has a responsibility to show solidarity and support for those in need. Our assistance depends on full humanitarian access so aid organisations can do their lifesaving job,” said Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič.

€400m will go for programmes in Africa, where EU aid will support people affected by long-term conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, those suffering food and nutrition crisis in Sahel, and those displaced by violence in South Sudan, Central African Republic, and Lake Chad basin. In the Middle East, €345m of EU funding, will address the crisis in Syria and its refugees in neighbouring countries, as well as the extremely critical situation in Yemen. In Asia and Latin America, EU aid worth €111m will continue to assist the most vulnerable populations affected by the crisis in Venezuela and refugees in neighbouring countries.

The European Union will also continue to provide help in Asian countries such as Afghanistan, which has witnessed war for nearly four decades, and Myanmar and Bangladesh, which both host Rohingya populations.

The full press release is available online in ENFRDEES.

EU

EU contributes €183 million to debt relief for 29 of the world's poorest and most vulnerable countries

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The European Union has announced that it will contribute €183 million to the IMF's Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT) for debt relief in 29 low-income countries, allowing them to increase their social, health and economic spending in response to the COVID-19 crisis. This contribution, announced just after the G20 Summit endorsed a Common Framework on Debt Treatments beyond Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), is fully in line with Commission President von der Leyen's proposal for a Global Recovery Initiative that links investments and debt relief to the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs).

High Representative/Vice President for Foreign and Security Policy Josep Borrell said: “The EU is combining injections of funds for the rapid easing of budget constraints to help the immediate response – through contributions like this one – with a sustained longer-term plan to assist partners in weathering a severe social-economic storm, which is far from over. The EU has been leading global efforts to do more on debt relief and debt restructuring efforts. It is our hope that our contribution will pave the way for others to join those global efforts.”

Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni added: “Today, Europe makes an important contribution to multilateralism and debt relief. The EU as a member of the G20 strongly supports the Debt Service Suspension Initiative and the new Common Framework on Debt Treatment. This contribution to the IMF debt relief trust is a further demonstration of our firm commitment to helping low-income countries deal with their debt burden.” Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, stressed: “The Commission is determined to continue supporting its partner countries in maintaining their path toward the SDGs despite dire financial situations. Debt levels were already high before the crisis and in many countries they are now simply becoming unsustainable.”

With this €183m contribution, the EU becomes the largest donor to the CCRT, which currently amounts to almost €426m. More information is available in the press release. For more details, consult the dedicated website on the EU global response to COVID-19.

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World Jewish Congress and Vatican reaffirm friendship during forum between Jewish and Catholic officials

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During a private virtual meeting between WJC and Vatican officials amid the COVID-19 pandemic, World Jewish Congress and Vatican officials expressed a strong commitment to strengthening ties between Jewish and Catholic communities globally. The forum, which featured a conversation between Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, and Claudio Epelman, WJC’s Commissioner for Interfaith Dialogue and Executive Director of the Latin American Jewish Congress, is the latest advancement in positive engagement between the two groups.

Speaking on the warming of relations between Jews and Catholics, and the spirit of positivity resulting from the onset of dialogue between the two faiths 45 years ago, Cardinal Koch said: “It is my impression that in these years, many old prejudices and enmities have been overcome, reconciliation and cooperation have been developed, and personal friendship has been deepened. It is with profound gratitude that we recall all those who have been and continue to be committed to this important dialogue and have aspired to strengthening mutual trust and respect.

“With our shared patrimony, we have a common responsibility to work together for the good of humankind, refuting [antisemitism] and anti–Catholic and anti–Christian attitudes, as well as all kinds of discrimination, to work for justice and solidarity, reconciliation and peace.”

Epelman said: “This past year has shown us the true power of human fraternity, and that we have more in common with one another than meets the eye. We have learned that there is nothing that can stop us when we work together to confront our shared challenges head on.

“The World Jewish Congress looks forward to continuing to work together with Pope Francis and the Vatican to foster coexistence between people of all faiths around the world.”

Also in attendance at the online meeting were leaders of the WJC’s affiliated  Jewish communities, including those of Belgium, Colombia, Italy, and Panama, as well as Father Norbert Hoffmann, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission, who echoed Cardinal Koch by stating that, “The Catholic Church is an ally in combating antisemitism,” and reaffirmed Pope Francis’s position that Christians and Jews share a bond because Christians, “have Jewish roots”.

About the World Jewish Congress

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 100 countries to governments, parliaments and international organizations.

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Afghanistan

2020 Afghanistan Conference: Sustainable peace, anti-corruption and aid effectiveness on the agenda

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The 2020 Afghanistan Conference kicks begins today (23 November) with the EU co-organizing and participating in number of events taking place ahead of tomorrow's (24 November) plenary session. Crisis Management Commissioner  Janez Lenarčič will co-chair, together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan Mohammad Haneef Atmar an event on sustainable peace (livestream available), with a focus on promoting human rights and empowering women, and also on refugees and returnees.

International Partnerships Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen will deliver a speech at an event on anti-corruption and good governance, and in doing so will emphasize the EU's expectation that the Afghan government delivers on its reform agenda. EU officials will also participate in a third side event taking place ahead of the conference, on aid effectiveness.

Tomorrow, EU High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell will deliver a speech at the opening session of the conference, when he will outline the EU's position on the ongoing intra-Afghan peace negotiations, as well as the conditions for the EU's support, which were presented in a recent paper co-authored with key international donors.

Later, Commissioner Urpilainen will deliver the EU's financial assistance pledge at the conference. Both interventions will be available on EbS. More information on EU-Afghanistan relations is available in a dedicated factsheet and on the website of the EU Delegation in Kabul.

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