MFA: Finland’s humanitarian aid increases by 46 per cent from last year – support for education, school meals, rights of women and girls, and crisis prevention
Finland provided a historic total of EUR 115 million in humanitarian aid in 2020. Humanitarian aid is one of the most concrete ways of responding to crises and disasters. More than 200 million people across the globe need humanitarian aid due to conflicts, natural disasters and the coronavirus pandemic.
Finland’s humanitarian aid stresses education, school meals, the rights of women and girls, improving the situation of people with disabilities, crisis prevention, and direct support for dealing with the coronavirus crisis this year.
“The government is committed to increasing the level of humanitarian aid. Significant additional funding granted at the end of the year will increase Finland’s humanitarian aid to match and even exceed the level that preceded the cuts in appropriations for development cooperation. Finland is thereby also discharging its responsibilities even in these exceptional times,” says Ville Skinnari, Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade.
Finland is also adopting a stronger role in education in the humanitarian sector. It will begin funding the Education Cannot Wait fund (EUR 6 million) managed by UNICEF, which seeks to ensure the rights of children to education even under crisis conditions. Finland is also supporting children’s schooling through UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (EUR 2 million), which includes providing refugees with basic education and health services.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a significant rise in the number of people suffering from acute malnutrition. Through the UN Food Program WFP (World Food Program), Finnish funding is supporting school meals in the countries of the Sahel region and in many other crisis areas where school meals are the only meal of the day for many children. The WFP channel also enables Finland to provide food aid in Yemen (totalling EUR 5 million), which is on the brink of famine.
Finland is seeking to reinforce its support for the education sector in crisis situations. “We know from our own experience that school meals have much more far-reaching effects than mere nutrition. They strengthen the health of children, improve learning outcomes and promote equality. This is why I am working as a WFP School Meals Ambassador to build political and financial support for school meals in developing countries and in humanitarian crises,” Ville Skinnari explains.
The Minister’s work in this capacity faces a challenge as the coronavirus pandemic has damaged the position of women and girls in particular in humanitarian crises. Finland promotes the rights of women and girls by such means as supporting the humanitarian work of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Syria and other crisis areas around the world (EUR 3 million). UNFPA provides maternity and child health clinic services, improves access to safe childbirth, prevents gender-based violence, and provides psychosocial support to victims of violence.
Finland is also working through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to fund the prevention of gender-based violence among Rohingya refugees in Myanmar and Bangladesh (EUR 2 million). The work of UNHCR also stresses child welfare, education, emergency accommodation and shelter.
Prevention is a much more cost-effective approach than responding to crises, and Finland has long supported disaster risk prevention efforts through the UN. It is also providing additional funding to help the poorest countries in particular to prepare for natural disasters and other crisis situations (EUR 1 million).
Supplementary funding allocated towards the end of the year will enable Finland to support the humanitarian work of UNICEF in Ethiopia (EUR 2 million), and direct support through the Red Cross and Red Crescent movements to Ethiopia, Somalia and Niger, where work focuses on health, water, sanitation and shelter (totalling EUR 3 million). Finland is also providing additional funding for the work of UNHCR in Venezuela (EUR 0.5 million), and for the UN Central Emergency Response Fund CERF (EUR 5.4 million), which provides a rapid response to sudden disasters and protracted underfunded crises around the world.
Earlier this autumn Finland allocated EUR 3.1 million to Finnish CSO projects that seek to address humanitarian needs caused by the coronavirus pandemic in Yemen, Uganda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zimbabwe.
Lauratuulia Lehtinen, Head of Unit, Unit for Humanitarian Assistance, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 46 921 2030
The Foreign Ministry’s email addresses are in the format email@example.com.
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