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WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY: Time to focus on the EU action

Every year on 19 August Europe celebrates World Humanitarian Day. This day marks the day in 2003 when 22 humanitarians lost their lives in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq.

Last 19 August has been an opportunity to highlight the numerous humanitarian challenges we are facing, and to make a point about ECHO action especially in a moment when thousands of refugees are dying in the Mediterranean.

Europe has a long and proud tradition of humanitarian service and it is the birthplace of many of the world’s prominent relief organisations. The European Union as a whole has provided humanitarian aid for more than 40 years and it is today the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid. EU development aid goes to around 150 countries in the world, ranging from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. We should not forget that in 2000, countries from all over the world agreed on the Millennium Development Goals and the EU really played a leading role in negotiating this vision.

Over the last decade, thanks to EU funding, almost 14 million pupils could go to primary school, more than 70 million people were linked to improved drinking water, and over 7.5 million births were attended by skilled health workers, saving the lives of mothers and babies. The European Development Fund (EDF) is the main instrument for providing Community aid for development cooperation in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States and Overseas countries and territories (OCTs). The 11th EDF 2014-2020 (Revised Cotonou agreement) amounts to €30.5 billion. Find here the latest open calls for proposals for the EDF.

As the EU is improving every year the lives of millions, it is important to focus on some main aspects about the development cooperation in 2015 which has been the European year for development. First of all, EU aid is transparent and it is easy to find out where the money goes. The EU has repeatedly been ranked among the most transparent aid donors. There are different tools to find out where EU money goes such as the EU Aid Explorer or the European Commission’s financial transparency system.

To prevent fraud and corruption, EU aid is regularly audited and controlled. EU programmes undergo regular independent audits to ensure that their accounts are in order. Moreover the EU makes sure that its development programmes follow the priorities which governments have for their countries’ own development.

Finally it is important to keep in mind that EU humanitarian aid and development cooperation are different but work hand in hand. Humanitarian aid helps to save people’s lives rapidly in crisis situations, and address their basic needs, for example by providing food, shelter or medical care in conflicts or after natural disasters. Development cooperation supports countries over the medium and long term so they can overcome poverty and have sustainable economic growth that benefits all parts of society. The EU works hard to ensure that the change from emergency to development assistance runs smoothly, by linking them with each other.


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