EU pledges 7.7 billion euros towards global needs in 2024

By Thomson Reuters Mar 18, 2024 | 5:31 AM

By Nette Noestlinger

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union on Monday pledged to spend an initial 7.7 billion euros ($8.39 billion) on humanitarian aid in 2024, less than the previous year despite soaring needs in Gaza and elsewhere.

“I think this is a solid amount … but it could be better,” EU humanitarian aid and crisis management chief Janez Lenarcic told the opening of a humanitarian conference in Brussels.

Last year, member states and the bloc’s executive Commission pledged 8.4 billion euros in total.

No reason was given for the decrease.

The U.N. says a record 300 million people are in need of humanitarian help, mostly due to conflicts and climate change. It estimates the worldwide funding gap at nearly $50 billion.

“There are more people in need of emergency assistance than ever before,” the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said, adding that the situation in the Gaza Strip was especially dire.

“In Gaza, we are no longer on the brink of famine, we are in a state of famine,” he said, adding that Israel was using starvation as a weapon of war.

The two-day conference is expected to focus on how to get more aid into Gaza. It has been effectively sealed off since Israel began its war with Hamas in response to the militant group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

The issue of getting more aid into the enclave – be it via land, sea or air – will also be discussed by EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday.

Israel denies obstructing aid into Gaza. It has blamed failures by aid agencies for delays and has accused Hamas of diverting aid. Hamas denies this and says Israel uses hunger as a weapon in its military offensive.

($1 = 0.9177 euros)

(Reporting by Nette Nöstlinger; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)