Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

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Humanitarian aid

© European Union/ECHO/Martin Karimi

Based on international humanitarian principles and as set out in the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid, the EU provides needs-based humanitarian assistance to the people hit by man-made and natural disasters with particular attention to the most vulnerable victims. Aid is channelled impartially to the affected populations, regardless of their race, ethnic group, religion, gender, age, nationality or political affiliation.

The EU – Member States and EU institutions collectively – is among the leading donors of humanitarian aid in the world.

The European Commission has been providing humanitarian aid since 1992 in over 110 countries. While its annual budget for such operations is only around €1 billion, the Commission's assistance reaches over 120 million people every year.

The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) provides relief in all major crisis zones around the world including Syria, South Sudan, Yemen and Ukraine. It also contributes to tackling the refugee crisis in Europe, also by mobilising EU civil protection channels.   

The humanitarian assistance funded by the EU is delivered in partnership with UN agencies, international organisations and NGOs. EU humanitarian aid covers intervention areas such as: food and nutrition, shelter, health care, water and sanitation and education in emergencies. A large network of Commission's humanitarian experts in over 40 countries worldwide enables close monitoring of crisis situations and relief operations.

The funding for humanitarian aid operations is intended for countries outside of the EU. The European Commission can also fund emergency support operations to respond to disasters of exceptional scale within the European Union.

Disaster risk reduction

In addition to responding to emergency situations, the Commission also allocates around 13% of the annual humanitarian budget to disaster risk reduction activities in countries most prone to disasters. This work aims to reinforce the resilience of local communities by better preparing them to face emergencies. 

Education in Emergencies

When the EU received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2012, it decided to devote the prize money to children worldwide affected by conflict and emergencies. Since then, the EU has gradually stepped up its support to provide education in emergencies, which is a hugely under-funded sector. EU-funded projects on education and psycho-social assistance to overcome war traumas made it possible to help more than 1.5 million children in 26 countries since 2012.

EU Aid Volunteers

The EU Aid Volunteers initiative brings together volunteers and organisations from countries all over the world to support the delivery of humanitarian aid and strengthen local capacity and resilience in disaster-affected communities. Through the initiative, 4 000 EU citizens will have the opportunity to do humanitarian work and help people caught up in crises and some 4 400 people from non-EU disaster-affected countries will benefit from capacity building. 10 000 online volunteering opportunities will also be offered.

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Last updated
05/04/2016