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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

About European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

A woman and a man standing next to a shelter tent. In the background a brick wall.
© European Union, 2023

The European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (DG ECHO) was created in 1992 as an expression of the European solidarity with the people in need across the world.

The department first started as the EU’s humanitarian aid office. We have been providing humanitarian assistance for over 30 years, with the help of our field network and humanitarian partners.

The EU’s humanitarian work is guided by the humanitarian principles grounded in international humanitarian law (humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence).

EU humanitarian action also embodies the principle of solidarity, as laid down in the Lisbon Treaty.

In 2010, our department integrated civil protection for a better coordination and disaster response inside and outside Europe, through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and the work of the EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre.

A complementary work

Civil protection and humanitarian aid are complementary.

In the case of humanitarian aid, we share competence with EU Member States, and together, we are one of the leading global humanitarian donors. The EU’s initial humanitarian budget amounts to over €1.65 billion per year and helps millions of people across the globe.

When it comes to civil protection, the EU assumes a supporting role, coordinating voluntary contributions of in-kind assistance from countries participating in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

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