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Monday, 07 April 2014

EU aid operations hit by shock €400 million funding gap

A funding shortfall of around half of the EU’s annual humanitarian aid budget will axe life-saving NGO projects and trigger global job losses in July, unless urgent action is taken by politicians of the 28-country bloc, senior officials have told EurActiv.
The aid crunch is the result of a gap between the sums that EU member states’ pledged for aid operations in ‘commitment credits’ and what they have so far delivered, under a new 2014-2020 EU budget framework insisted on by countries such as the UK.
“The situation has become critical,” said Walter Schwarzenbrunner, the resources director of the EU’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection directorate (DG Echo). “We need to find a way to get institutional reinforcement of €400 million - with €150 million before the summer – to avoid a real crisis.” Additional revenue shortfalls would take the final budget deficit to €480 million, he said.
So far, DG Echo has tried to limit the effect of the funding gap by prioritising core operations and postponing new payments to small NGO operations in regions including the drought-prone Sahel in Sub-Saharan African, as well as parts of Asia and South America.
But the Union’s capacity for responding to humanitarian crises has been limited in 2014, Schwarzenbrunner said, even if he still hoped that the Commission would yet bring forward new proposals in late May.
Asked whether life-or-death aid delivery would be axed in July otherwise, he replied: “This would definitely be the consequence. I cannot deny it. We have prioritized crucial life-saving operations at least to a certain extent, but we will run out of the possibility of continuing these under a variety of scenarios that could materialize.”
Without the replenishment of DG ECHO funds, even core funding in areas such as Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic could be affected, he said. Other EU officials confirmed that, in the event of a humanitarian crisis, the directorate “would promise less than they would in normal circumstances”.

Source: EurActiv.com