Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

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ECHO funds humanitarian projects to address the basic needs of the most vulnerable displaced people. Photo credit: EU/ECHO/Anouk Delafortrie

Why is this important?

Protection is a broad concept, approached in many different ways ranging from the delivery of basic humanitarian assistance, to institution-building, and to the deployment of peacekeeping troops.

International law defines the global framework for the protection of populations: it includes human rights law, international humanitarian law and refugee law, which define the obligations of states and warring parties to provide assistance and protection to civilians, as well as to prevent and refrain from behaviour that violates their rights.

How are we helping?

Protection is embedded in the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department ECHO's mandate as defined by the European Council's Humanitarian Regulation (1996) and confirmed by the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid (2007). Its objective is to reduce physical and psychological insecurity for persons and groups under threat. When providing general assistance, humanitarian actors must ensure that their actions do not undermine protection, nor exacerbate existing inequalities (do-no-harm principle).

The 2009 funding guidelines for humanitarian protection activities define the framework in which ECHO may support protection activities, including the type of partners and the kind of activities it may finance. ECHO supports non-structural activities aimed at reducing the risk, and mitigating the impact of human-generated violence, coercion, deprivation and abuse of vulnerable individuals or groups in the context of humanitarian crises. The term "structural" refers to a long-term process of building or strengthening of institutions.


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