BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, March 13, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, will today announce €81 million of new EU support to the Central African Republic (CAR) during a joint visit to the country with French Minister for Development, Pascal Canfin, and German Minister for Cooperation, Gerd Müller.
The amount represents a significant boost in EU aid to the country and will help restore basic social services and livelihoods; particularly in the areas of education (for example, to help classes restart in schools which have been closed due to the conflict), health (to rehabilitate and reequip health centres), and food security and nutrition (to ensure agriculture continuity, for example, by providing seeds.)
Ahead of his arrival, Commissioner Piebalgs said: “The Central African Republic and its people are facing unprecedented challenges, and it is more important than ever that we act now to put in place the foundations for stability and future development.
“This is why we are determined to support the new Head of State in her will to restore security and bring peace back to the country. The problem of conflict is not solved, but we cannot afford to lose sight of our ambitions for long-term economic and social development and that starts with addressing people’s basic needs. Development is key to stability, which is why we continue to give it our full support”.
Schedule of Commissioner Piebalgs
During his visit to CAR, Commissioner Piebalgs will meet the new transitional Head of State, Ms Catherine Catherine Samba-Panza. He will also visit the National Authority for elections (NAE), where he will meet the members of the NAE and discuss plans for the preparation of elections.
The Commissioner will also visit health, food aid and cash for work programmes as well as the Palais de Justice and meet with civil society representatives , Erik Solheim Chairman of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will also take part in this joint mission.
Today’s new funding is in line with the Commission’s LRRD approach (Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and Development). It comes in addition to €20m support to elections which was already announced earlier in 2014. Overall, an additional amount of €101m has been offered to the Central African Republic in 2014 as an immediate response to the crisis. This aid is part of the bridging facility between the 10th European Development Fund, or EDF (which runs from 2008-2013) and the 11th EDF (from 2014-2020.)
Between 2008 and 2013, around €225 million were allocated for the whole country through the EU’s different financial instruments (€160 million through the 10th European Development Fund, or EDF, and €65 million through the EU budget).
The Central African Republic is as large as France and Belgium put together. The current crisis is affecting the majority of the population (4.6 million, half of them children). More than 50% of the Central Africans are in dire need of aid. As of 31 January, there were more than 825,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Car. More than 245,000 Central Africans sought refuge in neighbouring countries in the course of last year. Lack of access makes it difficult to deliver the urgently-required assistance to those suffering the consequences of violence.
The EU has taken the lead in advocacy and funding on Car among relief donors, as a key partner of the Central African Republic and the country’s main donor. Relations are bound by the Cotonou Agreement. The restoration of security remains the immediate priority in order to stabilise the country in support of the political process, and is at the heart of the development aid.
Commissioner Piebalgs’ announcement today comes just ahead of the 4th Africa-EU Summit, which will take place in Brussels on 2-3 April 2014.
The Brussels summit will be held under the theme “Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace”. It is expected to mark a further significant step forward for the partnership between the EU and Africa in these three areas.