European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

Service tools


© European Union/ECHO/Anouk Delafortrie

Why is this important?

Ensuring protection of populations is a core objective of humanitarian action. 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?

In humanitarian crises, people need material assistance, such as food, water and medical assistance, as well as psychological support. In situations of violence or deprivation, the European Commission aims to ensure that the projects it funds look beyond the material needs to the broader issues of personal safety and dignity. The purpose of EU-funded protection interventions is to prevent, reduce and respond to the risks and consequences of violence, deprivation and abuse.

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

The Staff Working Document Humanitarian Protection: Improving protection outcomes to reduce risks for people in humanitarian crises, released in May 2016, outlines the definition and objectives of the European Commission’s humanitarian protection work. It provides guidance for the programming of protection work in humanitarian crises, for measuring the effect of interventions and for planning related capacity building activities.


Last updated