Main takeaways:  

  • The EU provides assistance for countries and populations affected by disasters or humanitarian emergencies in line with the four main principles grounded in IHL.
  • The DG ECHO mainly functions as a donor to NGOs or agencies with a solid commitment to maintaining support. Its annual budget is just over €1 billion.
  • The DG ECHO faces two challenges regarding funding and policies: Resources are not always sufficient, and with the current global food crisis, critical voices are raised not to forget other crises.

On June 1, 2022, YPFP hosted a ‘Humanitarian Aid in Times of Crisis’ event. The event was moderated by Programmes Officer Lina Stahl, who was joined by Mr. Frederik Schutyser, who works as the Deputy Head of Unit within the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) at the European Commission in Brussels.

The DG ECHO’s primary mission is to prevent and alleviate human suffering and safeguard the dignity of populations at risk affected by disasters and humanitarian crises. Its main task is to ensure rapid and effective delivery of EU funds and relief assistance to countries. Together with EU member states, DG ECHO is the leading humanitarian donor, allocating funding to crisis-affected people in more than 80 countries worldwide.

Starting the event with a brief presentation by Mr. Schutyser on the Emergency Response Coordination Centre within the DG ECHO, insights into the field of EU Civil Protection, and lastly, the EU’s Initial Humanitarian Aid for 2022, the discussion revealed ECHO’s biggest challenge is how to balance all the different crises we are facing in the world today.

The Q&A session mainly focused on the current food crises regarding Russia’s war in Ukraine and the urgent need to pay attention to forgotten crises in Sahel or Nigeria. Finally, Mr. Schutyser gave exclusive insights into the lessons learned from former crises and how we can best prepare to deal with what is coming as a humanitarian system.

Written by Lina Stahl, Programmes Officer, YPFP Brussels.