European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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Message from the Director-General

© European Union/ECHO/Anouk Delafortrie

"Dear Visitor,

Thank you for your interest in the European Commission's civil protection and humanitarian aid work.

Our mission is to provide assistance to people affected by humanitarian crises and disasters worldwide.

We ensure a rapid and coordinated European response to natural hazards and man-made disasters both within the EU or elsewhere in the world. By drawing on the in-kind assistance, civil protection capabilities and expertise provided by the Member States through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, as we enable the immediate deployment of specialised teams and equipment to disaster areas. With the European Medical Corps, we have consolidated the ability of Europe to respond to global health emergencies.

At our headquarters, the Emergency Response Coordination Centre monitors crises around the globe 24/7, ensuring complementary action of the EU and its Member States. Together with the national civil protection agencies, we regularly organise joint exercises to strengthen our collective response ability, exchange best practices and collaborate on reducing disaster risk.

In light of the increasing frequency of natural hazards, such as forest fires, deadly storms, flash floods, the EU recently established “rescEU” to upgrade the existing EU Civil Protection Mechanism. If one also considers the consequences of man-made disasters, such as for instance, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) incidents, the need for resilient civil protection structures is even more justified. rescEU is a concrete and tangible expression of European solidarity in action, a European risk-sharing tool that can be mobilised in exceptional situations.

With rescEU, the EU will invest in developing a stronger collective response at European level and give more attention to prevention activities in order to better protect people facing natural hazards and man-made disasters. 

Millions of victims of disasters or conflicts around the globe receive the EU's life-saving humanitarian support each year, as an expression of European solidarity.

Combined with the Member States' contributions, the EU is a leading humanitarian donor in all the world's hotspots.

We help people in need in all major crises, including Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Yemen. We support refugees in Turkey by providing cash assistance, education in emergencies, and other services. But we also look beyond the media spotlight and engage in many of the 'forgotten crises', such as the ones affecting Sahrawi refugees in Algeria, Rohingya people in Myanmar/Burma, humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine, and Colombian refugees in Ecuador.

EU humanitarian aid is provided in places where it is needed the most. Our field offices in more than 40 countries are our eyes and ears on the ground, ensuring a regular monitoring of crises and allowing the Commission to target its assistance to people's needs. Our field experts help us liaise with more than 200 humanitarian partner organisations, including UN agencies, NGOs and international organisations, such as the Red Cross family.

Our work also aims at preparing populations to better withstand crises when they occur. Investing in disaster preparedness means reducing loss of lives and saving resources spent on crisis response. We run resilience programmes in the most disaster-prone countries in the world and we support the global Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.       

If you want to know more, feel free to contact us through the website or our social media channels."

Monique PARIAT
Director General
Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)

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