The EU is the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid, providing more than 50% of assistance worldwide to crisis zones, countries facing post-conflict instability and countries dealing with ‘forgotten crises’. Established in 1992, ECHO is the European Commission’s department for overseas humanitarian aid and for civil protection. ECHO is responsible for the implementation, operation and delivery of humanitarian aid and civil protection and ensures rapid and effective delivery of humanitarian aid and supports and coordinates the civil protection systems. Headquartered in Brussels, ECHO connects a worldwide network of field offices, which are spread throughout 39 different countries.
ECHO assists around 120 million people in 110 countries annually, while focusing on the most vulnerable people who are affected by natural disasters or man-made crises. ECHO’s humanitarian aid and civil protection projects fund the provision of essentials (e.g. food, shelter, and medical supplies), resilience building and disaster risk reduction, medical teams, mine-clearance experts, transport, and logistical support. The 2016 budget includes support for the EU Aid Volunteers initiative, the emergency support inside the EU and the emergency distribution of milk to Syrian children.
ECHO does not provide humanitarian aid directly; rather, it funds and coordinates partner organizations working in the field. There are over 200 partner organizations worldwide, including non-governmental (NGOs) and international organizations (IOs), the United Nations (UN) and the Red Cross societies.