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Hungary should keep cooperation with African states on its agenda while presiding over the EU

29 November 2010

Hungary should prioritize support for access to water in Africa, says Minority Rights Group International (MRG) on Monday on the first day of the Africa-EU Summit. The human rights organisation urges Hungary that it should follow up any agreement arising out of the summit and work towards strengthening of the Africa-EU relations during its forthcoming EU Presidency.

During the two-day meeting, heads of state are expected to adopt the Second Action Plan of the 2008 Africa-EU Strategy. The programme outlines planned activities for the next three years, between 2011 and 2013. The document comprises 8 priorities and emphasizes the exchange of experiences on water management, an area which has been defined as a priority by Hungary in its presidency programme for the first half of 2011.

"The border of Europe cannot be a barrier to the realisation of the right to water. Hungary has to focus on the African region as next President of the EU, in accordance with the EU Africa policy," said Zsófia Farkas, MRG's Human Rights and Development Officer.

Currently, 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water; and a quarter of them live in the sub-Saharan region. Minorities and indigenous peoples living in marginalised areas are often more severely affected as globally, eight out of ten people without safe drinking water reside in rural areas.

Lack of clean drinking water gives rise to a a number of social issues apart from the risk of spreading serious diseases. Fetching water is a task that often falls on women and children, decreases their employment opportunities or enrollment rates, while further limiting equal opportunities for women.

The Africa-EU strategy also embraces the commitments of the Millennium Development Goals. Therefore, the documents related to the strategy include the exchange of experiences in improving management of transboundary water resources, the establishment of early flood-warning systems, as well as the importance of technological and financial assistance.

The future Hungarian EU Presidency is committed to finalizing and adopting the European Danube Strategy, which encompasses transboundary cooperation, climate change mitigation strategies, flood prevention and measures against droughts.

"Hungary should share these experiences as an integral part of its development assistance activities in Africa," added Farkas.

At the time of its 2004 EU accession, Hungary undertook that by 2010, it will spend 0.17 per cent of its GNI to development assistance. By 2009, Hungary managed to meet only a fraction of this pledge, namely 0.09 per cent. The country is a state party to the Cotonou Agreement and the Joint Africa-EU Strategy. In accordance with these documents, African countries and African civil society should receive priority in the development assistance of the EU and its member states.

Notes to editors

  • Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a non-governmental organisation working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide.

Interview opportunities:

  • Neil Clarke, Head of Europe and Central Asia Programmes, Minority Rights Group International, Budapest
  • Zsófia Farkas, Human Rights and Development Officer, Minority Rights Group International, Budapest

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Bernadett Sebály
M: +36 70 217 2601
T: +36 1 327 7038
email: [email protected]