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.
The Commission proposes to develop European standards for managing volunteers in humanitarian projects, and a training programme to prepare volunteers for deployment. Only well-prepared volunteers will have the possibility to be deployed as 'EU Aid Volunteers' in humanitarian projects.
Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response said: "We have here a unique possibility to send a positive signal in these times of crisis: Through their actions in the field and on the ground EU Aid Volunteers will demonstrate our European solidarity by helping those most in need. And they will at the same time learn invaluable skills. Saving lives is a life-changing experience that they will never forget. Volunteering has the overwhelming support of all our citizens throughout all our member states."
The EU Aid Volunteers initiative will be implemented in close cooperation with humanitarian organisations that adhere to the standards and would need to be certified to become 'sending organisations'. These standards will notably include provisions for safety and security of the volunteers which is of paramount importance in humanitarian operations.
'EU Aid Volunteers' will be trained together in multinational groups and will also be able to spend some months in apprenticeship placements in a foreign country in Europe before going to the field. A network of 'EU Aid Volunteers' will be created that is expected to grow over the years into a unique pool of ambassadors for European solidarity.
Interested European citizens and long-term residents in the EU above 18 will be able to apply to become EU Aid Volunteers.
The proposal includes a budget of €239.1 million that would be used for an extensive training package (€58 million), deployment (€137 million), capacity building in communities hit by disasters (€35 million) and supporting activities.
Some 10,000 people will be deployed over the period 2014-2020. The scheme will also include training for 7,000 local staff and volunteers of organisations in countries hit by disasters. Through an online volunteering dimension another 10,000 people are expected to support the EU Aid Volunteers with tasks that can be done from home on a computer.