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Summary: 6 June 2008, Brussels – European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, is deeply concerned by the ban imposed by the Zimbabwean authorities on the international humanitarian relief effort in the country.
Commissioner Michel stated, "This ban must be lifted right away. I am deeply distressed to think that hundreds of thousands of people who depend on aid from the European Commission and others for their very survival now face an even more uncertain future. It is essential that relief workers be given unrestricted and secure access so they can provide assistance to the most vulnerable."
Commissioner Michel stressed the neutrality of humanitarian relief efforts saying, "It is essential to remember that all humanitarian relief efforts are based upon the principles of independence, neutrality and impartiality. Further clarification from the Zimbabwean authorities is needed on the claims of inappropriate actions by certain relief organisations so that humanitarian operations can be restored in full without further delay."
The European Commission believes that an outright ban on its humanitarian funded activities will have serious consequences on the lives of those who need it most. The ban means that Non-Governmental Organisations and other international relief agencies, many of whom operate with European Commission funding, are no longer allowed to provide basic humanitarian care to many of the poorest people including children.
The European Commission remains the most important donor in Zimbabwe. In 2007 it provided 90.9 Million euros in humanitarian aid and other assistance oriented towards helping vulnerable people directly. Current EU support focuses mainly on: emergency aid; basic health; food aid/food security; water and sanitation, and basic education. It also supports community development, good governance and human rights. Key partners include United Nations agencies, and non-governmental organisations (both national and international).