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EU mobilizes international donors to support Rohingya refugees and countries in the region

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Last week the European Union, along with the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees co-hosted the International Donors' Conference in solidarity with Rohingya refugees and countries in the region.

The EU mobilized a total of €96 million for Rohingya refugees in 2020 for humanitarian, development co-operation as well as conflict prevention support.

Representing the EU at the conference, Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič said: “Today the international community came together to show its support and deliver further assistance to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees and the communities hosting them. We must do all we can so the Rohingya crisis does not become a forgotten tragedy. At this difficult time, the EU continues to stand by the most vulnerable with this emergency humanitarian support.”

International Partnerships Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen said: “The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has increased the challenges on the ground. Today's EU pledge reinforces our engagement with partners in support of people and development in the region. We must prevent a worsening of this crisis.”

EU aid for Rohingya refugees and countries

Today's funding from the EU will focus on helping those most in need, channelled through UN agencies, NGOs and international organizations:

  • Humanitarian assistance of €51.5 million – which includes a new allocation of €20m from the Emergency Aid Reserve - to help refugees and vulnerable host communities. Priority sectors will be protection (including child protection, Gender Based-Violence), critical healthcare (including mental health) and nutrition, food assistance and key coordination roles.
  • Development support of €39m to strengthen the resilience and social cohesion of Rohingya refugees and host communities in Cox's Bazar District and of internally displaced people in Rakhine State. Support will focus on strengthening basic social services, particularly education, health, food and nutrition security, as well as addressing protection and information needs.
  • Conflict prevention support of €5.5m to contribute to stability and peace in the region.

Background

The 25 August 2020 marked the 3rd anniversary of the mass fleeing of over 740,000 Rohingya from Myanmar, following major outbreaks of violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar. Over 860,000 Rohingya refugees currently live in Bangladesh, in Cox's Bazar district, and over 150,000 in other countries of the region.

The UN estimates that approximately 600,000 remaining Rohingya people in Myanmar's Rakhine continue to suffer from a protracted human rights crisis, with very limited access to basic services and viable livelihood opportunities due to strict movement restrictions and denied citizenship and rights.

Since 2017, the EU has provided over €226m in humanitarian and development support to respond to the Rohingya crisis both in Myanmar and in Bangladesh. This includes basic humanitarian assistance for Rohingya populations, and host communities living close to the refugee settlements. The EU provides food assistance, shelter, health care, water and sanitation support, nutrition assistance, education, and protection services.

Today's conference aimed to underscore the international community's continued commitment to the humanitarian response for Rohingya refugees and host communities in Bangladesh and throughout the region, and for Internally Displaced People in Rakhine State, Myanmar.

This press release is also available in Arabic.

 

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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EU

Stop violence against women: Statement by the European Commission and the High Representative

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Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November, the European Commission and High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell (pictured) issued the following statement: “Violence against women and girls is a violation of human rights, and has no place in the European Union, or anywhere else in the world. The scale of the problem remains alarming: one in three women in the European Union have experienced physical and/or sexual violence. Violence against women exists in every country, culture and community.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has shown once more that for some women not even their home is a safe place. Change is possible, but it requires action, commitment and determination. The EU is committed to continue to work tirelessly with its partners to investigate and punish acts of violence, ensure support for victims, and at the same time to address the root causes and reinforce the legal framework.

"Through our Spotlight Initiative we are already fighting violence against women and girls, in 26 countries across the globe. This week we will present a new Action Plan on gender equality and women and girl's empowerment in our external actions. We also call on member states to ratify the Istanbul Convention - the first legally binding instrument at the international level to combat violence against women and domestic violence. Our goal is very clear: to end all forms of violence against women and girls. We owe it to all the victims.”

The full statement and the factsheet are available online.

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coronavirus

Coronavirus: Commission to provide 200 disinfection robots to European hospitals

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As part of its continued efforts to tackle the spread of coronavirus and provide member states with necessary equipment, the Commission launched the purchase of 200 disinfection robots that will be delivered to hospitals across Europe. Overall, a dedicated budget of up to €12 million is available from the Emergency Support Instrument (ESI). Hospitals from most Member States expressed a need and interest in receiving these robots, which can disinfect standard patient rooms, using ultraviolet light, in as quickly as 15 minutes, and thus help prevent and reduce the spread of the virus. The process is controlled by an operator, who will be located outside of the space to be disinfected, in order to avoid any exposure to the UV light.

Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said: “Developing technologies can set up forces of change and we see a good example of this in the disinfection robots. I welcome this action to help our hospitals in Europe reduce the risk of infection – an important step in containing the spread of coronavirus.” Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, added: “Europe has remained resilient and solidary during the current crisis. From repatriating EU citizens stranded abroad to increasing the production of masks and ensuring that medical equipment reaches those who need it within the single market, we are acting to protect our citizens. Now we are deploying disinfection robots in hospitals so that our citizens can benefit from this potentially life-saving technology.”

The robots are expected to be delivered in the coming weeks.

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