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Humanitarian aid: EU allocates €54.5 million to Africa's Great Lakes region

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The EU has announced new funding of €54.5 million in humanitarian aid. This life-saving assistance will be devoted to the most vulnerable people affected by human-made or natural disasters, epidemics, and displacement in the Great Lakes region of Africa. The aid will address the needs of the most vulnerable in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo and Burundi, and will support Burundian refugees in the DRC, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič said: “Many people in the Great Lakes region face conflict and violence, natural disasters, as well as recurrent outbreaks of epidemics such as cholera, measles and Ebola – a threat that recently re-emerged in the region. COVID-19 and its health and socioeconomic implications further exacerbate the humanitarian situation. The magnitude of the humanitarian crisis, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is very worrying. The EU's assistance will be used to provide food, health and protection assistance, enhance emergency and disaster preparedness, and increase access to education for those displaced.”

Out of the €54.5 million, over 80% of the funds will go to humanitarian response in the DRC - €44 million, including €4.5m for education in emergencies and €1.5m for disaster preparedness. €1.5m is assigned to disaster preparedness in the Republic of Congo. €9m is allocated to Burundi and the regional response to Burundian refugees, including €1m each for disaster preparedness and education in emergencies.

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Background

The coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating an already dire situation in the Great Lakes region. Countries in the region are prone to epidemics, more so in areas confronted by population movements and conflict. The pandemic has also accelerated the socio-economic challenges of the region, which, to various degrees, has been dealing with decades of conflict, underdevelopment, extreme poverty and malnutrition. The 11th Ebola outbreak in the DRC was declared over in November 2020. Ebola re-emerged in the North Kivu province in the eastern part of the country in February 2021, but no further Ebola cases have been reported since 1 March 2021, while the response continues (infection prevention and control, contract tracing, vaccination, etc.)

Humanitarian action alone cannot solve the underlying and often structural causes of the humanitarian crises in the region. The EU is therefore applying and promoting a humanitarian-development approach, where donors work together to further increase the coherence between humanitarian and development aid and stabilisation actors.

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EU humanitarian aid to Burundi

EU humanitarian aid to the Democratic Republic of the Congo

EU response to Ebola

Diet

Healthy Lifestyle: Commission launches a European-wide campaign

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The Commission has launched the HealthyLifestyle4All campaign to promote a healthy lifestyle for all, across generations and social groups, with the objective to improve the health and well-being of Europeans. Linking sport and active lifestyles with health, food and other policies, this two-year campaign involves civil society, non-governmental organisations, national, local and regional authorities and international bodies. All involved will implement several actions for Europeans to be more active and more mindful of their health.

The actions will support the three objectives of the HealthyLifestyle4All campaign:

  • Raise more awareness for healthy lifestyles across all generations;
  • Support an easier access to sport, physical activity and healthy diets, with a special focus on inclusion and non-discrimination to reach and involve disadvantaged groups;
  • Promote a global approach across policies and sectors, linking food, health, well-being and sport.

All participating organizations can submit a commitment for concrete actions in the online Pledge Board. Several EU countries and organisations, such as the International and European Olympic Committees, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International School Sport Federation, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), and the World Health Organization (WHO) already submitted their contribution, with many more to be expected.

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As a coordinator of the campaign, the Commission will implement several actions in the next two years, including for example:

  • Increase funding for projects supporting a healthy lifestyle in the Erasmus+, Horizon Europe and EU4Health For 2021-2027, €470 million will be available for sport actions under Erasmus+, €290 million under Horizon Europe, and €4.4 million under EU4Health;
  • create a new #BeActive Across Generations Award to recognise the importance of Sport across different ages;
  • launch an EU Mobile App for cancer prevention to raise awareness of the importance of healthy lifestyles for cancer prevention, supporting the goals of Europe's Beating Cancer Plan;
  • develop and update a food ingredients database containing information on the nutritional quality of processed food products sold in the EU to promote healthier food products and reduce the consumption of less healthy food products high in sugar, fat and salt. A harmonised mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling will further support that objective as well as the EU Code of Conduct on responsible food business and marketing practices that entered in force in July 2021;
  • address the issue of healthy and sustainable diets, and the importance of physical activity and mental health in schools. The Commission will review the EU School fruit, vegetables and milk scheme and will streamline the concept of healthy lifestyles in its recommendation on education, and;
  • Support evidence-based policy making for healthy lifestyles with the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Knowledge Gateway and the Knowledge Centre on Cancer.

The launch of the campaign coincides with the start of the European Week of Sport 2021, which takes place from 23 to 30 September across Europe under the patronage of three great European athletes: Beatrice Vio, Jorge Pina and Sergey Bubka. Thousands of events, online and in situ, will highlight the power of physical activity to bring joy, build resilience and connect generations. Since its first edition in 2015, the European Week of Sport has become the largest European campaign for promoting sport and physical activity. The 2020 European Week of Sport (EWoS) saw a record participation of 15.6 million active participants in over 32,000 events across Europe.

Promoting the European Way of Life Vice President Margaritis Schinas said: “Sport and physical activity contribute to our physical and mental wellbeing. The lack of physical activity not only has a negative impact on society and people's health, but also results in economic costs. In addition, sport has the potential to strengthen messages of tolerance and reinforce citizenship throughout Europe. Today's HealthyLifestyle4All campaign is a testimony of the Commission's implication for a healthy lifestyle for every citizen.”

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Launching the campaign alongside the European Week of Sport in Slovenia yesterday, Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said: “People's awareness about the role of sport and fitness for a healthy lifestyle has only grown over the years, not least because of the pandemic. We have to keep the momentum. The European Commission will continue to work to raise the awareness about the key role sport plays for our societies; for people's health, social inclusion and well-being. The HealthyLifestyle4All initiative invites key sectors promoting sport, physical activity and healthy diets to join the Commission in promoting action that can improve our healthy habits.”

Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said: "Good health is the bedrock for strong societies and strong economies. And prevention will always be better than cure. This is why health promotion and disease prevention is a crucial component for our work on health, and a major focus of Europe's Beating Cancer Plan. The HealthyLifestyles4All initiative will help us shine a spotlight on the importance of healthy lifestyles across all generations and social groups. It will raise awareness about the importance of healthy lifestyles, support a shift towards more sustainable diets and promote responsible food business and marketing practices.”

Background

According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, nearly half of Europeans never exercise or play sport, and the proportion has increased gradually in recent years. Only 1 in 7 persons aged 15 or over eats at least five portions of fruit or vegetables daily, while 1 in 3 does not eat any fruit or vegetables every day. Healthy lifestyles contribute to reduce the incidence of a number of non-communicable diseases. For example, it is an established fact that over 40% of cancers are preventable and unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles are important determinants. Effective cancer prevention strategies can prevent illness, save lives, and reduce suffering. Europe's Beating Cancer plan is committed to giving people the information and tools they need to make healthier choices when it comes to diet and exercise.

Sport is recognised for boosting the immune system, helping improve mental health and teaching us important values of inclusion and participation. At EU level, the Commission supports the promotion of physical activity through financial support via Erasmus+, Horizon Europe and EU4Health. Since 2014, Erasmus+ has financed 1175 projects and reached 3700 organisations for a value of €250 million. The Commission also created the #BeActive awards to support projects and individuals that are dedicated to promoting sport and physical activity across Europe.

The Commission supports the member states and stakeholders in promoting healthy diets through a number of actions, such as food reformulation, reducing aggressive (digital) marketing of foods high in fat, salt and sugars, public procurement of school food, promotion of physical activity and consumer information, including labelling. An overview of the policy initiatives on nutrition and physical activity shows that it can contribute to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. The Farm to Fork Strategy aims to accelerate our transition to a sustainable food system where everyone has access to sufficient, safe, nutritious, sustainable food.

More information

HealthyLifestyle4All

European Week of Sport

Nutrition and physical activity

Europe's Beating Cancer Plan

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European Commission

President von der Leyen visits the Western Balkans

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Ahead of the EU-Western Balkans Summit on 6 October, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) will be in the Western Balkans between today (28 September) and Thursday (30 September), to visit Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The president will start her trip in Tirana this morning, where she will be received by Prime Minister Edi Rama, and President Ilir Meta. Together with the prime minister, she will attend the inauguration of the ‘Korb Muça School and Europa Kindergarten', which was rebuilt with EU funds under the EU4Schools programme after the devastating 2019 earthquake. This afternoon, she will travel to Skopje, where she will meet Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, as well as President Stevo Pendarovski, followed by a visit to a youth cultural centre, together with Prime Minister Zaev. On Wednesday morning (29 September), President von der Leyen will be in Pristina, where she will meet with President Vjosa Osmani and Prime Minister Albin Kurti. She will also visit the Cicërimat Kindergarten, which was built with EU funds, together with the prime minister. The president will then travel to Podgorica, where she will be received by President Milo Đukanović and Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić. During her stay, she will visit the Institute of Public Health which received EU support in the fight against the pandemic, accompanied by the prime minister.

Then, the president will arrive in Belgrade, Serbia, where she will meet President Aleksandar Vučić on Wednesday and Prime Minister Ana Brnabić on Thursday. On Thursday morning, together with President Vučić, President von der Leyen will take part in the launch event of a project on railway Corridor X. The President will also witness the signing of a contract for the rehabilitation of a section on the Peace Highway which the EU is supporting. Her last stop will be Bosnia and Herzegovina, later on Thursday. The Commission president will attend the opening ceremony of the Svilaj Bridge connecting Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, together with Prime Minister of Croatia Andrej Plenković and the Chair of Council of Ministers Zoran Tegeltija. The same day, in Sarajevo, she will also have meetings with the Presidency members of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Over the course of her visit, President von der Leyen will give press conferences with the different Western Balkan leaders, which you can follow live on EbS

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EU at UNGA76: Wrap up

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The EU has concluded a week of intense discussions with leaders from all over the world on how to address together the most pressing challenges of our times: fighting the coronavirus pandemic and recovering from it, fighting climate change and biodiversity loss, sustainable development and the erosion of human rights. On 23 September, High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell (pictured) delivered a statement on behalf of the EU during the ministerial conference on article XIV of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Watch the statement here.

He also delivered a video message during the meeting of the Alliance for Multilateralism. Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič delivered opening remarks at the high-level event on 'Protection of children, invisible victims of armed conflict and COVID-19', organized by the EU and Belgium. Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius participated in a High-level event on regional perspectives on the circular economy. Also on 23 September, European Green Deal Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans and Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson presented three Energy Compacts at the UN High-level Dialogue on Energy in New York, in partnership with the International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Agency. You can read more about it here. Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans will represent the EU at the virtual UN Food Systems Summit. His speech will be available here.

He also participated in the leadership dialogue “Accelerating action to achieve universal energy access and net zero emissions” as part of the UN High-level Dialogue on Energy. Finally, on Tuesday, 28 September, Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen will participate in the meeting of Heads of State and Government on Jobs and Social Protection for Poverty Eradication, organised by the UN Secretary General and the International Labour Organization (ILO). All press and audio-visual material coverage from the past week will be available on EEASEuropa and Consilium.

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