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EU steps up humanitarian aid to victims of displacement and floods in Afghanistan and Pakistan

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_48557101_009889841-1The European Commission has released additional funding of €3 million for Afghanistan to help people affected by flooding and those seeking refuge from military operations in Pakistan, bringing our overall humanitarian aid for these two countries in 2014 to €76.5m.

In addition, €5m has been allocated for Pakistan for people displaced by the military operation against non-state actors in North Waziristan.

"Conflict and food insecurity keep millions of people in humanitarian need in Pakistan. In Afghanistan, a country which has been repeatedly weakened by conflict, insecurity and under-development, now severe flooding and a spill-over of the conflict in neighbouring Pakistan are adding to the burden. It is vital that we protect the most vulnerable, particular women, children and the elderly, by providing them with the protection and assistance they so badly need," said International Co-operation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva.

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In Pakistan, military operations in June have caused a new wave of displacement from North Waziristan Agency to neighbouring districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province as well as across the border into Afghanistan. The additional funding will provide food, shelter, medicines, drinking water, as well as protection activities for the displaced. Support will also be given to those Pakistani families who are seeking refuge in Afghanistan and who have been relying on the generosity of local host communities or living in camps.

In addition to hosting Pakistani refugees, Afghanistan was also affected by serious floods and landslides in May. The new funding will contribute to relief efforts for vulnerable flood-affected families who lost their homes and livelihoods.

This increased amount in European Commission humanitarian assistance will be delivered through humanitarian partners such as UN agencies, the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement and non-governmental organisztions.

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Background

North Waziristan Agency (NWA) is located on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. A new wave of displacement from North Waziristan Agency in Pakistan occurred in June following the launch of military operations by the Pakistan Army against armed non-state actors in North Waziristan. International humanitarian organisations have estimated that 500,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from NWA are urgently in need of assistance.

The current wave of displacement in Pakistan adds to almost one million people who remain internally displaced due to conflict over several years, mainly in the Peshawar Valley. It is estimated that almost 50% of the people displaced live below the national poverty threshold.

In addition, Pakistan currently hosts some 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees. Pakistan is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. To help assist the most vulnerable groups affected by recurrent natural disasters and conflict-driven humanitarian crises, since 2009 the European Commission has provided over €440m in relief assistance, disaster risk reduction, the Children of Peace initiative and other measures to build the resilience of those suffering the effects of disasters. This support is also used to address under-nutrition as an estimated 3.7 million children in Pakistan suffer from acute malnutrition.

In addition to those displaced within Pakistan, since June 2014, more than 112 000 people have been forced to flee from North Waziristan across the border into Afghanistan and are now refugees in the neighbouring Khost and Paktika provinces. Only half of the refugee families have received humanitarian aid.

In the first half of 2014, severe flooding and landslides primarily in the Northern Provinces of Afghanistan seriously affected over 150 000 people, creating significant humanitarian needs. The impact on homes, harvests and livelihoods has been disasters. Frequent natural disasters compound the effects of over three decades of conflict in Afghanistan.

Conflict and natural disasters continue to cause widespread displacement in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Both countries continue to face significant humanitarian challenges, which are exacerbated by insecurity, natural disasters, poverty and restricted access to basic services. Institutional capacity to respond to disasters is low, and mechanisms to mitigate risks and build resilience need to be strengthened.

More information

The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection
Commissioner Georgieva's website
Emergency Response Coordination Centre
Factsheet for Pakistan
Factsheet for Afghanistan
Factsheet: EU Children of Peace for Pakistan

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Kazakh president sets out five priorities for #Kazakhstan’s 'Third Stage of Modernization' 

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In his annual address to the nation, Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, announced five main priorities as part of what he described as “Kazakhstan’s third stage of modernization”. The priorities are aimed at ensuring economic growth and supporting the country to become one of the top 30 most developed countries in the world by 2050.

The five priorities are: Acceleration of technological modernization of the economy, improved business environment, macroeconomic stability, improved quality of human capital and institutional reforms, including improved security and more action to tackle corruption.

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President Nazarbayev said in his annual address: “I am setting the task of ensuring the implementation of the Third Modernisation of Kazakhstan. It is necessary to create a new model of economic growth that will ensure the country's global competitiveness.”

He added: “This modernization is not a plan to combat current global challenges, but a reliable bridge to the future, to meet the objectives of Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy. It will be carried out on the basis of the 100 Concrete Steps Plan of the Nation.”

The Head of State also instructed the Government to developa package of measures for the technological re-equipment of basic industries by 2025.

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The annual address followed a special announcement given by the President last week, in which he set out bold plansto increase the powers of parliament. President Nazarbayev stated that these constitutional reforms are aimed at furthering the democratic development of Kazakhstan, as the Government will be accountable to parliament.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev has proposed a constitutional reform aimed at furthering the democratic development of Kazakhstan. During a special televised address to the nation on 25 January, the President announced a number of functions that would be transferred either to the Government or Parliament. Public discussions on the proposed constitutional reforms will take place for the next month, concluding on 26 February. After this, the reforms will be presented to Parliament.