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Humanitarian aid

In a world where the footprint of conflicts and disasters is expanding steadily, humanitarian aid is a key pillar of the external action of the European Union (EU) and an important part of its ability to project its values globally.

The EU’s humanitarian action aims to save and preserve lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering and safeguard the integrity and dignity of populations outside the EU affected by natural disasters and human-made crises.

The EU’s actions in the humanitarian aid field are needs based and conducted in compliance with international law and with the international humanitarian principles (humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence) which are enshrined in the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid . In March 2021, the European Commission adopted a communication on the EU’s humanitarian action, which sets out the EU’s policy priorities in the field of humanitarian aid.

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) is in charge of implementing the EU’s humanitarian aid. Its mandate also covers risk reduction and disaster preparedness.

EU-funded aid is carried out in partnerships with international organisations (such as United Nations agencies or the international component of the Red Cross / Red Crescent movement), humanitarian non-governmental organisations or EU Member States’ specialised agencies. Aid covers areas such as food and nutrition, shelter, health, water and sanitation.

Article 214 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union is the legal basis for humanitarian aid.