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, experts go to the field to assess the needs and then monitor the implementation of funded projects.
For more information on ECHO, please consult our website.
ECHO in Pakistan
ECHO has been operational in Pakistan since the 1990s, where it has responded to all major humanitarian crises over that period, including the 2005 earthquake and the devastating 2010 floods which affected over 18 million people. It also provided much needed aid to people hit by subsequent floods. Since 2009, the European Commission’s humanitarian aid to people in need in Pakistan has totalled over € 443 million. Relief items have also been channelled to flood victims through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
In 2014, ECHO continues to support people affected by conflict in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and those suffering from under-nutrition and food insecurity in Sindh Province. It provides food assistance, access to safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, shelter, health-care and protection to conflict-displaced families in camps as well as to those living in host families outside the camps. Principled assistance, strictly based on vulnerability criteria, is ECHO’s main concern for these displaced populations, and advocacy for a principled, voluntary and sustainable return process will be maintained.
In Sindh Province, ECHO funding is helping aid agencies provide food, key nutritional services and healthcare, along with water and sanitation and livelihoods support to the most vulnerable and neglected communities, in particular children and mothers in flood-affected areas, in order to improve their nutrition status and make them more resilient to future shocks.
To know more about our latest activities in Pakistan, please have a look at our factsheet .
EU Children of Peace Project
The European Union received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 and dedicated the award to address the needs of children in conflict around the world. Over the last 2 years, the prize money has been used to fund thirteen different projects under the EU Children of Peace initiative. This included a project in Pakistan, where the funds provided learning opportunities for 4,000 boys and girls displaced by the conflict and living in Jalozai camp, near Peshawar. For many of these children, whose families fled from remote areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, this was the first time they had access to education.