Vienna, 11 December 2012 - "Austria is making 800,000 euros from the Foreign Disaster Relief Fund available to alleviate humanitarian distress in Niger and Haiti", Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said after the session of the Ministerial Council on 11 December 2012. "We want to help people whose lives have been shattered by extreme environmental conditions and natural disasters", and he continued:
"We are donating 400,000 euros to the International Federation of the Societies of the Red Cross and Red Crescent to help the people in Haiti hit by hurricane Sandy. The funds will be mainly used to supply food and water and medical aid to the people."
The natural disaster hit a country that is still struggling to come to terms with the consequences of the severe earthquake. The torrential rain following the hurricane destroyed some 90,000 hectares of arable land and the harvest in nearly 40% of all communities of the country. According to the World Food Programme, 450,000 people suffer from acute shortage of food. The flood also damaged water supply systems.
"The humanitarian situation in the Sahel is still critical, and Niger is one of the countries affected. Large parts of the population suffer from food shortage caused by the drought and the flooding that followed. We are therefore going to support the work of Austrian NGOs in the field of food security by making 400,000 euros available."
Millions of people in the Sahel belt are still starving. Niger, Chad, Mali and Mauritania are the countries that are most seriously affected. According to estimates of the European Commission, there is a shortage of 2.6 million tons of food. The current crisis in Mali, epidemics and political instability further aggravate the situation. More then 19 million people in the region are still suffering under moderate to acute food insecurity, more than one million little children among them. The Federal Government has provided 2.7 million euros for humanitarian aid, including food aid for the people in the Sahel in 2012.
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