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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
South America
South America


South America is exposed to multiple, often combined, natural and human-made hazards. Climate change has increased the frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters, eroding the resilience of the most vulnerable communities.

The region is also confronted with one of the largest population displacements in history: more than 7 million Venezuelans have sought refuge in neighbouring countries (of which almost 2.5 million are in Colombia, around 1.5 million in Peru, and around 500,000 respectively in Ecuador, Chile and Brazil). Many other nationalities transit across the continent.

What are the needs?

The socio-economic crisis in Venezuela has generated an exodus of over 7.7 million people. In addition, an increase in violence and social unrest in several countries in the region is resulting in new mixed migration flows. Refugees and migrants are exposed to protection risks and have overstretched local public services and the capacity of host communities. Across the region, economic slowdown, political instability and mounting xenophobia trigger risky circular movements and hamper integration efforts.

Latin America has also been one of the epicentres of the COVID-19 pandemic, with staggering numbers of infections and deaths. The pandemic hit in particular indigenous communities in remote areas, traditionally among the most vulnerable, due to limited access to basic services and poor sanitary conditions. The lack of sustainable improvements to the health systems is now generating an unprecedented spike in the number of cases and deaths from dengue and other vector-borne diseases across the continent.

Finally, the humanitarian consequences of violence and armed conflict are soaring. The Colombian armed conflict is spreading into neighbouring countries, fuelled by narcotrafficking and illegal extractive economies. This has devastating consequences in Ecuador, once the continent’s safe heaven, but also along the borders of Peru, Brazil, and Venezuela.

When disasters and violence strike, the greatest needs are protection, shelter, food and relief items, access to safe water and proper sanitation, education and primary healthcare.

Map of South America

How are we helping?

Since 2016, the EU has allocated €433.2 million in humanitarian assistance to vulnerable Venezuelans in and outside the country, and their host communities. This funding covers emergency healthcare, food assistance, and protection, while fostering local integration capacities. 

In 2024, the EU has allocated nearly €50 million to Venezuela, €16 million to Colombia and €22 million to the rest of South America.

All EU-funded humanitarian projects aim to guarantee access to food and water, effective protection, education, and medical care, among other actions. We pay particular attention to the impact of climate-related disasters, conflict, and violence on the indigenous populations in the region. 

Since 1994, the EU has allocated €149.4 million to disaster preparedness projects in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela, fostering resilience at community level supported by strong national systems. The EU has also contributed to strengthening the regional disaster preparedness strategies in South America, paving the way for the signing of a dedicated Memorandum of Understanding between the EU and the sub-regional organizations in May 2024. 

The EU’s disaster preparedness funding supports initiatives aimed at strengthening the capacity of local institutions and communities to cope with disasters, violence, and crises. 

Indicatively by:

  • supporting local disaster response committees in drafting emergency plans,
  • setting up early warning systems, 
  • developing information and education campaigns,
  • reinforcing vital infrastructure (shelters, schools, and hospitals),
  • protecting livelihoods,
  • promoting coordination among those responsible for anticipating or reacting to disasters. 

South America has also received immediate support in the aftermath of disasters via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Following the deadly earthquake that hit Ecuador in 2016 and claimed more than 650 lives, the EU coordinated relief efforts and provided €5 million in emergency response aid. 

In 2017, 2019, and 2023, the EU also deployed experts and firefighters under the Mechanism to help Chile and Bolivia fight some of the worst forest fires recorded on the continent. 

In 2023, the Yanomami indigenous population in Brazil was facing a severe nutritional crisis. In response, the EU allocated €500,000 as emergency humanitarian funding to address their most urgent needs. 

In the first half of 2024, several emergency funds were mobilized in Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile to support the response to disasters such as floods and wildfires. Meanwhile in Ecuador, EU funds were used to address the surge of violence that shook the country in January 2024. In May, over €1 million was approved to respond to the devastating floods in Brazil, which affected 90% of the territory of Rio Grande do Sul.

An additional €1.5 million will be allocated to a regional response to the Dengue outbreak in South and Central America.

A Memorandum of Understanding on disaster risk management has been established as a new collaboration instrument between the European Union and the Latin America and Caribbean region. This agreement focuses on disaster preparedness and risk management, and it became effective in May 2024. Regional disaster management agencies, including the Andean Committee for Disaster Prevention (CAPRADE) and the Regional Mechanism for Disaster Risk Reduction in South America (RMAGIR), have signed as parties to the agreement.

Last updated: 15/05/2024

Facts & figures

Over 7.7 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants across the region to date (R4V)

EU humanitarian aid in South America:
€1 billion since 1994