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EU scales up humanitarian support to #Afghanistan as worst drought in a decade looms large

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The European Commission has allocated an additional €20 million in emergency aid to Afghanistan as the humanitarian situation has worsened since the beginning of 2018, due in part a severe drought affecting large parts of the country. This brings total EU humanitarian aid for Afghanistan to €47m in 2018.

"The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan shows little sign of improvement. Conflict has intensified since the beginning of the year and a severe drought is taking hold. The most vulnerable communities are hardest hit so the EU is stepping up support to help those most in need. Our new aid package aims to reach 400,000 people in need of assistance," said Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Commissioner Christos Stylianides (pictured).

The EU humanitarian assistance announced today will support communities affected by the drought, civilian war casualties, and displaced populations. Thanks to this funding, humanitarian organizations will address the most pressing needs on the ground, ranging from emergency shelter to food assistance, water and sanitation, protection, and health care. Part of the assistance will be channelled through the EU funded Emergency Response Mechanism, which ensures emergency assistance to vulnerable displaced communities.

Background

Afghanistan is one of the most violent crisis-ridden countries in the world. The worst-hit communities are those that have been displaced or have lost access to basic services due to the conflict which has worsened since the beginning of 2018.

Additionally, several years of low rainfall, combined with low levels of snow-fall last winter, have led to a drought in 20 provinces, where nearly 15 million people rely on agriculture. In some of the hardest-hit districts of the country's Western Region, agriculture and livestock production is 50-60% lower than in 2017. An estimated 2 million people are affected by the drought, with 1.4 million in immediate need of food assistance. Chronic underdevelopment and ongoing violence compound the effects of the drought, which is depleting household assets and significantly increasing displacement within the country. The European Commission has funded humanitarian operations in Afghanistan since 1994, providing in excess of €794m to date.

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#Coronavirus global response: EU Humanitarian Air Bridge to #Afghanistan and further support

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As part of the EU's global coronavirus response, an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flight will depart on 15June from Maastricht, Netherlands, to Kabul, Afghanistan. The flight will deliver 100 tonnes of life-saving materials to supply EU-funded humanitarian partners. The flight is fully EU funded and is part of ongoing Air Bridge flights to critical areas of the world.

The EU is also providing a new aid package of €39 million to boost coronavirus response as well as to help victims of war, forced displacement and natural disasters in Afghanistan.

Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič said: "At this difficult time, the EU continues to stand by the most vulnerable in Afghanistan. The coronavirus pandemic poses huge logistical challenges for the humanitarian community, while the needs remain high in critical areas. With this air bridge, the EU is delivering vital assistance such as food, nutrition, water, shelter to ensure aid reaches as many people as possible and to help support the people of Afghanistan.”

EU humanitarian projects in Afghanistan focus on providing emergency health care, shelter, food assistance, access to clean water and sanitation facilities, as well as various protection services supporting women and children. The full press release is available online.

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#Afghanistan - 'There are few words that can do justice to the horrors'

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In a statement on the terrorist attacks in Afghanistan today, the EU said that words could not do justice to the horrors inflicted. The high representative described the attacks as clear violations of International Humanitarian Law, for which the perpetrators will have to bear the consequences: "There are few words that can do justice to the horrors we have witnessed today in Afghanistan. At the same moment an attack was targeting a maternity ward in Kabul, a terrorist detonated his bomb in the middle of a funeral in Nangarhar. Dozens of innocent civilians were killed or injured in these most reprehensible acts of terror.

"To target and kill mothers, newly born babies and nurses, as well as bereaved and mourning families, are acts of evil and show an appalling degree of inhumanity. The attack on the Dasht-e-Barchi hospital maternity ward, run by Médecins Sans Frontières, also seems to have targeted international aid workers. The European Union stands in solidarity with them. These acts constitute clear violations of International Humanitarian Law, for which the perpetrators will have to bear the consequences. Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones and we wish those who were injured a quick recovery.

"The Afghan people deserve peace. For too long has their country been ripped apart by terrorism and violence that no political objective can ever justify. A permanent ceasefire is absolutely vital, and the European Union calls on all stakeholders in Afghanistan and the region to make it a reality."

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Human rights breaches in #Russia #Afghanistan and #BurkinaFaso

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Russia

MEPs call on the Russian authorities to immediately repeal the country’s law on ‘foreign agents’ and to bring existing legislation into line with Russia’s constitution and obligations under international law. This law from 2012 requires the country’s non-governmental organisations to register with the Ministry of Justice as ‘organisations performing the functions of foreign agents’ if they receive foreign funding or are engaged in vaguely described ‘political activities’.

The resolution also condemns the recently approved amendments to the ‘foreign agents’ law’, which considerably widen its scope and will allow for individuals to be discredited or labelled as ‘foreign agents’. This measure is often used against civil society representatives, members of the political opposition or independent journalists.

The law also imposes specific requirements to register, label and do accounting for publications, and makes non-compliance a criminal offence, including the possibility of sanctions with heavy administrative fines or imprisonment of up to two years.

The text was approved by show of hands. The full resolution is available here.

Afghanistan

The European Parliament deplores the widespread and ongoing sexual abuse of thousands of boys and young men in Afghanistan, a practice locally know as bacha bazi, which constitutes child slavery and is prevalent in several provinces in the country. The bachas, typically boys between 10 and 18 years old, are often bought or kidnapped from impoverished families by influential members of the elite in rural areas, including politicians and army officers, after which they are sexually abused by men.

MEPs therefore call on the Afghan central and local authorities to eradicate such practices and to set up a national victim support helpline dedicated to children’s rights abuses. They also urge the Afghan government to start a nationwide campaign to educate the general public about the prohibition of bacha bazi, as only a combination of law enforcement and education will make it possible to achieve the cultural change needed to eliminate such abuse.

The text was approved by show of hands. The full resolution is available here.

Burkina Faso

MEPs condemn any form of violence, intimidation and the kidnapping of civilians in Burkina Faso, in particular violence targeting specific religious communities, as well as the misuse of religion to legitimise persecution of Christians and other religious minorities.

Since 2015, jihadists and other armed groups that were previously active in neighbouring Mali have terrorised the Burkinabe population and attacked state symbols such as military targets, schools and health care facilities. In 2019, over sixty Christians were killed in multiple attacks, the most recent one on 1 December against a Sunday service at a Protestant church in the Eastern town of Hantoukoura, which resulted in 14 casualties.

The European Parliament is concerned about the deteriorating situation in Burkina Faso and its international geopolitical implications, and underlines that the EU’s continued security and political assistance for the G5 Sahel-led efforts in the region is imperative.

The text was approved by show of hands. The full resolution is available here (19.12.2019).

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