The European Commission aims to save and preserve life, prevent and alleviate human suffering and safeguard the integrity and dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises. EU assistance, amounting to one of the world’s largest, is enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon and supported by EU citizens an as expression of European solidarity with any person or people in need.
Headquartered in Brussels with a global network of field offices, the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) ensures rapid and effective delivery of EU relief assistance through its two main instruments: humanitarian aid and civil protection. By bringing together the two under one roof in 2010, the Commission has built up a more robust and effective European mechanism for disaster response both inside and outside the EU.
Since November 2014, the humanitarian aid and civil protection department operates under the mandate of Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.
The European Commission has allocated up to €700 million for the period 2016-2018 to address the humanitarian needs triggered by the refugee crisis within the EU.
Under the first tranche of funding, the Commission provided €83 million to address the humanitarian needs in Greece in April 2016. This funding is supporting eight projects implemented by UN organisations and international NGOs. The priority is to provide appropriate shelter, drinking water and sanitation, primary health careand protection in the various sites which are hosting refugees and migrants.
In September 2016, the European Commission announced a second tranche of €115 million for the support of further projects in Greece.
In addition, in-kind assistance has been delivered through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Eighteen European countries have offered 185 000 items of material support to respond to the most immediate needs, such as tents, beds, sleeping bags, blankets, hygiene kits, power generators, water pumps, fire-fighting equipment and other specialised equipment.