December 26, 2005

EU grants 166 mln euros for 10 poor African nations

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union announced on Monday
a 166 million euros ($196.9 million) aid package for 10 African
countries, saying the continent's poorest nations must be
remembered on the first anniversary of the tsunami in Asia.

"Today we remember the victims of the tsunami in south east
Asia. But millions of vulnerable people in Africa are exposed
to natural disasters like droughts, floods and insect
infestations as well as armed conflicts," EU Humanitarian Aid
Commissioner Louis Michel said in a statement.

"These are silent tsunamis. Many of these catastrophes do
not hit the headlines in the Western media but they still lead
to great suffering," he added.

The aid, which will be made available mainly in 2006 by the
executive European Commission, will go to Sudan, the Democratic
Republic of Congo, Burundi, Chad, Tanzania, Uganda, Liberia,
the Ivory Coast, Madagascar and Comoros.

Sudan will receive 48 million euros to help the victims of
fighting and violence in the Darfur province, which have killed
tens of thousands and displaced more than 2 million, creating
one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, which is still struggling
with bands of gunmen after a five-year war officially ended in
2003, will get 38 million euros to improve health care for
women and children and to help in the settlement of refugees.

Burundi is to receive 17 million euros, Liberia 16.4
million, Uganda 15 million, Chad 13.5 million and Tanzania 11.5

The EU, already the world's largest aid donor, agreed this
year to boost aid spending to 0.51 percent of gross national
income (GNI) by 2010 and 0.7 percent by 2015. It has also
agreed that half of the increase in aid will go toward Africa.