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Humanitarian aid and civil protection

European humanitarian values in action

The European Union provides needs-based assistance to countries and populations, both within Europe and abroad, when major disasters or humanitarian emergencies occur.

Together, the EU countries are among the world's leading donors of humanitarian aid, helping millions of people worldwide each year. This aid accounts for 1% of the EU's total annual budget – around €4 per EU citizen.

EU humanitarian action is guided by the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, as enshrined in the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid.

Through its humanitarian aid, the EU assists the most vulnerable populations with: 

-    food and nutrition
-    shelter
-    health care
-    water and sanitation
-    education in emergencies

The European Commission's large network of humanitarian experts in over 40 countries worldwide enables close monitoring of crisis situations and relief operations.

Aid is channelled through 200+ international and local partner organisations and agencies.

Responding to crises and emergencies worldwide

Through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, the EU, together with a number of other European countries, plays a key role in coordinating response to crises in Europe and beyond. 

Ongoing crises and emergencies are monitored around the clock by the EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre. The participating countries in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism also cooperate on risk assessment, disaster prevention preparedness and planning.

Emergency relief can take the form of items such as food, shelter or equipment, deployment of specially equipped teams, or assessment and coordination by experts sent to the field. 

The EU has also its own reserve of European capacities to respond to emergencies, called “rescEU”. The rescEU reserve includes:

-    Fleet of firefighting planes and helicopters
-    Medical evacuation planes
-    Stockpile of medical items and field hospitals
-    Shelter, transport and logistics assets
-    Energy supply items
-    Reserves to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) risks

rescEU is 100% financed by the European Union, including costs for purchase, operation, and maintenance.

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