The bulk of the €169.8 million Belgium earmarked last year for humanitarian aid went to the Middle East, especially Syria, and Africa’s Great Lakes region, the Department of Foreign Affairs revealed on Tuesday.
The amount was similar to the 2018 humanitarian aid package, according to the department, which is also responsible for Development Cooperation.
Of the €56.4 million earmarked for the Middle East, close to half (€25.4 million) was absorbed by Syria, followed by the occupied Palestinian Territories (€9.5 million), Yemen (€7.9 million) and Iraq (€7.2 million).
Another €28.5 million were earmarked for the Great Lakes Region, with just under half (€14.2 million) destined for the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In the Sahel Region, wracked by armed conflicts that have forced millions of people from their homes, Belgian humanitarian aid totalled €18.3 million.
Belgium awards its aid through various channels: contributions to the general budgets of international humanitarian organisations (€30 million); flexible humanitarian funds (€70 million); multiannual programmes for complex crises (€24.7 million); and humanitarian projects in response to forgotten crises (€45.2 million).
Last year, flexible funds received an increasing chunk of the budget (58%). “More flexible humanitarian finance not necessarily reserved for a special appropriation enables our humanitarian partners on the ground to act much faster,” the minister in charge of cooperation, Alexander De Croo, explained.
Belgian and international NGOs received €20 million, 12% of the budget.
In 2018, Belgium had earmarked €170 million for humanitarian aid, most of it going to the humanitarian disasters in and around Syria and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.