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European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps

The creation of a European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps, foreseen in the Lisbon Treaty, offers European citizens the opportunity to get involved in humanitarian aid. The first volunteers will soon have the chance to be trained and deployed through pilot projects. This will provide additional resources to organisations specialised in humanitarian aid and disaster risk reduction. After this initial experience, and following broad public consultations, legislative proposals will be put forward by the Commission.

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The pilot phase for the European Humanitarian Voluntary Corps was launched in June by Commissioner Georgieva at a conference in Budapest organised by the European Commission and the Hungarian Presidency of the EU.

Following the Commission’s own analysis and two rounds of public consultations, several areas have been identified in which the future Corps can add value by encouraging Europeans to volunteer and by demonstrating our collective solidarity to communities in distress. These include:

  • identification and selection of volunteers (getting the right people in the right place at the right time)
  • training, and development of common standards and good practices
  • deployment of European volunteers in EU humanitarian aid operations.

Three key partner organisations of ECHO – the Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department – have been selected to run the pilots and give feedback before the launch of the full-fledged Corps:

  • Save the Children UK together with their partners Network of Humanitarian Assistance ‘NOHA’, Institut Bioforce Développement (Bioforce) (FR), and associate organisations Caritas Czech Republic, Save the Children Denmark and Johanniter Germany.
  • Red Cross France together with their partners the German Red Cross, the Austrian Red Cross and the Bulgarian Red Cross, and as associate organisation the International Federation of Red Cross / Red Crescent Societies (CH).
  • Voluntary Service Overseas UK (VSO) with VSO Netherlands (NL) and Pro Vobis – National Resource Centre for Volunteering (RO), whose project is due to start in 2012.

These pilot projects will test various options for the Voluntary Corps’s work, with the best ones taken on board by the fully-fledged body. In 2012, following the pilots, Commissioner Georgieva will propose legislation to define the structure and role of the future European Humanitarian Voluntary Corps.

Security has been the top priority in designing the pilot projects, and choosing where to deploy volunteers. Security is also the underlying principle behind the future fully-fledged European Humanitarian Corps.

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A web-chat on the topic took place through Commissioner Georgieva's Facebook page. Everyone wishing to learn more about the future European voluntary corps in humanitarian aid, how to get involved and become one of the pioneers of the just-launched pilot phase had the opportunity to pose questions to the Commissioner directly.

See the discussion between Commissioner Georgieva and her Facebook friends on the Voluntary Corps.

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