On 19 September 2012 the European Commission set out its plans to develop a global initiative that will create opportunities for some 10,000 people from 2014-2020 to volunteer worldwide in humanitarian operations.
The EU Aid Volunteers initiative will provide a path for Europeans eager to help practically where help is most urgently needed. The number of natural and man-made disasters in the world has significantly increased over the last years and this trend is unfortunately likely to continue. Humanitarian organisations need more well-prepared people to support them helping communities struck by disasters.
Many Europeans are eager to help practically where it is most needed. The EU Aid Volunteers' initiative will provide them with the opportunity to do so.
Most existing volunteer schemes have a national focus. 'EU Aid Volunteers' will bring volunteers and organisations from different countries to work together in common projects. European standards in this field will provide a quality label denoting proper training for volunteers, recognisable by interested citizens and organisations, which increase the impact of humanitarian aid.
The Commission proposes to develop European standards for managing volunteers in humanitarian projects and a European training programme. Trained volunteers will be deployed as EU Aid Volunteers in humanitarian projects worldwide. A network of EU Aid Volunteers will be created, so they can interact with and support each other before, during and after deployment. Other people can also get involved through online volunteering supporting volunteers already in the field or helping humanitarian organisations with tasks that can be done from home on a computer.
EU Aid Volunteers have to be over 18 years of age and have to be citizens or long-term residents in the EU and certain other European countries.
The initiative is open for different profiles of candidates: They can be newcomers, i.e. people who want to gain experience in the humanitarian sector, and experts or retired citizens who want to help out with their specialist knowledge. Preparation and deployment opportunities will depend on the level of skills and competences. Inexperienced volunteers will not be sent to projects where security is a concern.
The Commission proposes to certify humanitarian organisations that adhere to the European standards of managing humanitarian volunteers. These organisations will in turn identify suitable humanitarian projects and apply for EU grants to deploy EU Aid Volunteers.
EU Aid Volunteers are trained together and will be examined after the training as to their readiness to be deployed. Where needed, the training can include office-based experience in a European humanitarian organisation, before going into the field.
The proposed initiative also includes training for local staff and volunteers of organisations in countries hit by disasters where the EU Aid Volunteers will work.
The proposal includes a budget of €239.1 million that will be used for an extensive training package (€58 million), deployment (€137 million), capacity building in communities hit by disasters (€35 million) and supporting activities.
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