The FINANCIAL -- On March 30 the European Commission adopted a €30 million programme to provide 350,000 Syrian children with drinking milk, as part of the already substantial aid provided by the EU to those in need as a consequence of the crisis in the region.
The funding for this latest programme is part of the €500 million support package for European farmers presented by the Commission in 2015, which represented a substantial response by the Commission to support European farmers. It will be used to buy milk which should originate in the EU, according to the European Commission.
As well as supporting European farmers through the purchase of drinking milk, the €30 million programme will also contribute significantly to the major challenge posed to the EU by the refugee crisis. The milk will be distributed to Syrian children and will reinforce an already operating food distribution programme for school children financed by the EU in Syria.
"This new programme will help hundreds of thousands of Syrian children in need. We must remain committed to helping the most vulnerable victims of the conflict. This additional support will go to humanitarian partner organisations working in the country." said EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.
The milk provided will be of EU origin and is part of the Commission's €500 million solidarity package to European farmers presented in September 2015, where €30 million was earmarked to address the needs of vulnerable groups in third countries, in the context of the current refugee crisis.
EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, also said: "I am pleased that the Commission has today adopted this programme, which is an integral part of the Commission's €500 million support package for European farmers. This new programme delivers on two Commission priorities – to support farmers at a very difficult time, while also ensuring that we remain fully focused on the major challenge posed by the ongoing refugee crisis."
The conflict in Syria had a severe impact on the agriculture sector of the country, leading to a decline in food production, in particular of dairy products. Consumption of milk has been significantly reduced especially amongst poor households due to high food prices. Syrian families typically consumed milk and other dairy products on a daily basis prior to the crisis. At present, milk has in some cases completely disappeared from their diet.
Besides being the type of dairy product that better suits the food and nutrition needs of the people that will benefit from this programme, the treatment of drinking milk makes it suitable for human consumption over a long period and allows for its consumption on a stand alone basis, without there being a need to add water (the quality of which cannot always be guaranteed up to the required standard in all parts of the intended areas of intervention).