European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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Emergency support within the EU

Providing the thousands of refugees stranded in Greece with shelter is a top priority for the European Union. © UNHCR

In urgent and exceptional circumstances, such as the recent sudden influx of refugees in Europe, the European Commission can fund emergency humanitarian support for people in need within the EU territory.

Emergency humanitarian assistance can be delivered, in close coordination with EU Member States, to the most vulnerable victims of disasters via projects carried out on the ground by the Commission's humanitarian partner organisations. These organisations are UN agencies, international organisations, Member State specialised services or NGOs that have signed an agreement with the Commission. Where necessary, the Commission can also directly fund assistance, relief and protection operations.  

Food, shelter, water, medicine and protection measures are some of the types of humanitarian assistance which can be directed to affected populations. The European Commission, with its partners and Member States, carries out humanitarian needs assessments on the ground to ensure the aid delivery of partners is targeted and effective.    

This type of support is intended only for exceptional disasters with severe humanitarian consequences taking place in the EU. Therefore, the provision of such assistance is decided collectively by Member States within the Council. Other financial instruments or tools also exist to respond to disasters within the EU, such as EU civil protection.

All emergency support operations within the EU are carried out in accordance with the international humanitarian principles.

Refugee crisis in Europe

Emergency support can be provided in EU Member States where the refugee crisis has reached an unprecedented scale, for example in Greece where large groups of refugees and migrants are currently stranded at the border and need immediate help. 

The Commission will release up to €700 million for the period 2016 to 2019 to fund emergency support operations addressing the needs of these refugees.  

This support will be complementary to what is being provided by the authorities of the affected Member States.

To respond to the refugee crisis, the Commission has also funded humanitarian operations in the Western Balkans and delivered in-kind assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

Only the Commission's humanitarian partner organisations can apply for funding to deliver emergency support with the EU. Read more about this funding and on how to become a partner.

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