The European Commission plays a great role in the provision of humanitarian aid as a form of solidarity towards people in countries outside the European Union (EU). In the awake of catastrophes caused by natural events such as earthquakes, typhoons and floods or in response to conflicts, the EC Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO) provides emergency relief assistance to the affected population, irrespective of their nationality, religion, gender or ethnic origin.
Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago. It is located on the ‘ring of fire’, one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world. Since 1994, ECHO has allocated over € 114 million to assist the victims of earthquakes, tsunamis, malnutrition and floods.
Recent ECHO Assistance
In October 2010 a tsunami in Mentawai off-Sumatra and the volcanic eruption of Mount Merapi in Java caused more than 600 deaths and displaced hundreds of thousands. The European Commission through ECHO, immediately provided €1.5 million in emergency assistance to the people affected by the two natural disasters. The main implementing partners included Arbeiter Samariter Bund (ASB), CARE, Mercy Corps, Telecom Sans Frontieres and International Organization for Migration (IOM). These projects have all been successfully completed.
In 2009, the European Commission also released €4.5 million for humanitarian assistance to the survivors of two devastating earthquakes, one in West Sumatra and the other in West Java. This was in response to the urgent needs for emergency and transitional shelter, non-food items, water and sanitation, logistics including transport, as well as coordination of the international humanitarian relief. These programmes provided assistance to an estimated 2 million people in the worst affected areas hit by the Sumatra earthquake.
Preparing for Disaster Saves Lives
Through its Disaster Preparedness Programme DIPECHO, the European Commission Humanitarian Aid department aims at building the resilience of communities that face recurrent disasters, in particular floods, earthquakes and forest fires, both in urban and rural areas of Indonesia.
The European Commission’s DIPECHO 2012-2013 programme for Southeast Asia worth €11 million has allocated some €1.57 million for projects in Indonesia which will seek to reduce the effects of natural disasters on vulnerable communities. These projects strengthen the local disaster preparedness capacity by supporting community-based activities, local capacity building, early warning systems, and public awareness campaigns. Since 1994, some €8.27 million have been invested in disaster preparedness in Indonesia by ECHO.
The ECHO field office in Jakarta is also responsible for EC humanitarian assistance to Timor Leste.
EC Humanitarian Aid at Glance
The European Commission is one of the world’s largest humanitarian aid donor.
Since 1992, the EC has funded relief to millions of victims of natural and man-made disasters outside the European Union. Aid is channeled impartially to the affected populations, regardless of their race, ethnic group, religion, gender, age, nationality or political affiliation.
The humanitarian programmes funded by the EC are implemented through around 200 partner organisations: United Nations relief agencies, members of the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement and non- governmental organisations.