The European Union as a whole is the world's largest donor of humanitarian aid. The European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) was created in 1992 as an expression of the European solidarity with people affected by conflicts and natural disasters all around the world. In 2004, ECHO became the Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid before integrating Civil Protection in 2010 for a better coordination and disaster response inside and outside Europe. In 2010, Kristalina Georgieva was appointed as the first dedicated Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.
The EU's humanitarian assistance is based on the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. Every decision ECHO takes adheres to these four principles which are at the heart of the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid. As such, ECHO's humanitarian aid is distributed without any regard for any political agendas, and without exception seeks to help those in the greatest need, irrespective of their nationality, religion, gender ethic origin or political affiliation.
Since its creation, ECHO has provided over €15 billion of humanitarian assistance to victims of conflict and natural disasters in 140 countries around the globe, whilst working to improve the resilience of communities which are regularly struck by floods, droughts, earthquakes and landslides by implementing disaster preparedness projects. In 2012, it provided humanitarian aid to over 122 million people in 92 non-EU countries.
ECHO's funding is channelled through a network of over 200 partners which comprises international non-government organisations, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, and the United Nations' humanitarian agencies. But ECHO is not just a donor, it also has a large team of field advisors throughout the world. Immediately following a disaster, these experts go to the field to assess the needs and then monitor the implementation of funded projects. You can find out more about the work of ECHO's South Asia office in New Delhi here [129 KB] .
For more information on ECHO, please also consult our website.
ECHO in India
ECHO has been present in India since 1995 and has responded to all major emergencies since, including the Orissa cyclone in 1999, the Gujarat earthquake in 2001, the Tsunami in 2004 and the Jammu & Kashmir earthquake in 2005.
Since 2002, ECHO has been continuously providing healthcare, protection, and livelihood support to the people directly or indirectly affected by the violence in Jammu & Kashmir. ECHO-funded projects also help provide healthcare, nutrition support and protection to civilians affected by the insurgency in Chhattisgarh since 2007. Between 2002 and 2012, humanitarian assistance was also funded for the 100,000 Sri Lankan refugees living in Tamil Nadu. ECHO's total humanitarian assistance to India till now exceeds €120 million. You can find out more about ECHO's history in India here [94 KB] .
In 2013, the European Commission has provided over € 6 million to address humanitarian needs in India. The funding is used to provide psychosocial support and livelihood means to people in Jammu & Kashmir, health services to people in remote settlements in Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, and food assistance and livelihood support to people in the North-East. Besides, almost one-third of the 2013 allocation has been set aside to address acute malnutrition in children and short-term food insecurity in the worst-affected districts of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal.
Preparing communities to minimise natural disaster risk is also an important part of ECHO's work in India. Since 2001, ECHO's Disaster Preparedness programme, known as DIPECHO, has supported vulnerable communities in reducing the impact of floods, cyclones, earthquakes and other natural disasters through initiatives like creating early warning systems and adapted physical infrastructure. Its total contribution to this end exceeds € 8 million, including the 2013-2014 allocation.
To know more about our latest activities in India, please have a look at our factsheet .