Humanitarian affairs

The EU - a major actor in humanitarian aid

The European Union as a whole is the world's biggest donors of humanitarian aid. Together, Member States and the European Institutions contribute more than half of official global humanitarian aid.

Humanitarian aid is a fundamental expression of the universal value of solidarity between people. The EU provides life-saving aid for victims of conflict and natural disasters across the world. The humanitarian assistance covers a wide range of needs, from shelter, food, water and sanitation through to protection of refugees and internally displaced persons. In 2012, the European Institutions alone distributed humanitarian aid worth €1.34 billion, which provided assistance to 117 million of the world's most vulnerable people in over 91 countries outside the European Union.

The European Union, through its humanitarian assistance, is committed to core principals of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence, outlined in the European Humanitarian Aid Consensus Declaration. Partnership is a central element of the EU humanitarian aid response; with donors, implementing partners and other stakeholders working together to ensure effective humanitarian action. The EU cooperates with over 200 partners (UN agencies, NGOs and international organisations). The European Humanitarian Aid Consensus also attaches great importance to the central role of the United Nations in coordinating international relief efforts, in partnership with others.

As a donor, the European Union subscribes to the principles of Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD), seeking to apply donor best practice along with other donors. The principles include, amongst others, the allocation of humanitarian funding in proportion to needs and on the basis of needs assessments.

Working with partners

In Geneva, the EU Delegation's Humanitarian Affairs unit maintains close working relations with the main UN bodies dealing with humanitarian aid, including notably: OCHA, UNHCR, WHO, UNICEF and liaison offices of WFP and FAO, as well as with IOM. This involves supporting the mandate of these organisations, participating in donor consultations and exchanges of information, and actively engaging in dialogue regarding their work on the ground and in headquarters: current activities, best practice, planning and budgetary requirements, response plans, management systems, etc. The EU Delegation's Humanitarian Affairs unit is also in regular contact with other UN bodies working on the interface of humanitarian and development issues, such as UNISDR and UNDP.

Moreover, the EU Delegation's Humanitarian Affairs unit in Geneva liaises actively with the Red Cross Movement – the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The EU maintains strong working links with Geneva representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), who play a crucial role in front-line humanitarian assistance. Regular exchanges of views take place with Geneva-based peacebuilding and peacemaking organisations and research institutes.

In Geneva, the EU Delegation maintains close working relations with the following UN bodies and International Organisations headquartered in Geneva:

OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) 

UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) 

UNISDR (UN's International Strategy for Disaster Reduction)

IOM (International Organisation for Migration)

The Red Cross family 

Non-Governmental Organisations

EU statements on humanitarian affairs

You can find all EU statements delivered in Geneva on humanitarian affairs here

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