Following his recent visit to Colombia, Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič is visiting Panama on the second leg of his stay in Latin America and the Caribbean. On the occasion, the Commissioner announced €153 million in humanitarian aid for the region as a whole for 2022.
Furthermore, in line with the recently announced European Humanitarian Response Capacity initiative, the first EU funded regional humanitarian stockpile to be based in Panama City was launched. Building on the success of rescEU in Europe, this overseas EU aid stockpile will be used to pre-position equipment such as shelter items, first aid kits, food and sanitation items to deliver them directly from the region when crises such as natural disasters occur. This is expected to greatly speed up aid delivery in one of the most disaster affected regions of the world and be supported by the new regional Copernicus data centre, a flagship initiative of the Global Gateway strategy.
Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “Several overlapping emergencies, increasingly combined by the disastrous effects of climate change, are resulting in complex humanitarian situation in Latin America and the Caribbean. Today, I am in Panama, albeit with a regional outlook, to express the EU’s continued support to often forgotten and underfunded crises, set to aggravate even further with global impacts of the war in Ukraine. For this reason, we are releasing further funding and enhancing our response by opening the first EU regional humanitarian stockpile in Panama, a strategic point to efficiently deploy aid where it is most needed.”
EU funding will addresses urgent humanitarian needs across the region, among which those resulting from the Venezuelan crisis, food insecurity, exposure to natural hazards, transcontinental migration as well as the consequences of pervasive violence, conflict and forced displacement.
In this view, Commissioner also participated in the high level meeting of the Inter-Agency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela, the so-called R4V, where the refugees and migrants needs assessments report has been issues; where the EU committed €77 million for this crisis.
Visit to Darien region of Panama
During his stay, the Commissioner is due to visit a reception centre for migrants in the area of Darien, one of the most dangerous migration routes in Latin America. The population influx reached record numbers in September 2022 with the arrival of up to 2,400 people per day, while projections remain very high. The EU is supporting UNICEF, UNHCR and IFRC to provide essential care to vulnerable refugees, asylum seekers and people on the move.
In view of further strengthening of relations, Commissioner Lenarčič inaugurated the new EU regional office for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid operations and met with representatives of the Panamanian government as well as UN agencies and humanitarian organisations active in the field.
The total funding figure includes an additional package currently under approval.
The Latin America and Caribbean region – home to some 650 million people – is one of the world’s most disaster-prone areas and also heavily affected by violence and forced displacement. Violence and armed conflicts are a major threat to populations in Colombia, Venezuela, Haiti, Central America and Mexico. The EU has been providing humanitarian aid to the region since 1995 investing over €1.7 billion over this time.