Annual report 2010

Foreword

In 2010 the European Union (27 Member States and the European Commission) maintained and strenghtened its long-term commitment to relieve the suffering of the victims of man-made and natural disasters, and kept its position the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid. Of the €9.8 billion of humanitarian assistance provided worldwide in 2010, some 41% was delivered by the EU.

By all accounts, 2010 was an intense and taxing year in both humanitarian aid and civil protection. The multitude, intensity and complexity of disasters and crises in both developed and developing countries have confirmed the wisdom of bringing together humanitarian aid and civil protection in one portfolio at the European Commission. This unification reflects the importance of these areas in the EU policy agenda. It gives us the opportunity to better deliver assistance, promote the humanitarian principles and build upon the natural synergies of humanitarian aid and civil protection in saving lives and reducing the costs and impact of crises and disasters. The two aspects of the portfolio have proven their complementary; their merger ensures that we are at the best service to those who need our help.

In 2010 we had to deal not only with two mega humanitarian catastrophes - the Haiti earthquake and the Pakistan floods but also with numerous other challenges: drought in the Horn of Africa and Sahel region, long-lasting effects of cyclones, flash floods in Bangladesh, man-made crises in Kyrgyzstan, Cote d’Ivoire, Yemen and Pakistan. These, and many other disasters, claimed thousands of lives and left millions more in need of our assistance to survive. While we delivered relief in such new emergencies, the Commission continued to help in protracted crises: in Sudan, the occupied Palestinian territories, Colombia, the Great Lakes Region.

One of main priorities in our policy for 2010 has been to drive forward the reinforcement of the EU’s Disaster Response Capacity. Action to the crises in Haiti and Pakistan demonstrated the strengths of the EU’s existing instruments, and also highlighted the scope for doing more. So we are building on the lessons learnt, on the advantages of working together, and on the analysis of the challenges we face, to one end: to improve the efficiency, coherence and visibility of our response to disasters inside the EU and outside its borders.

We continued to make aid more relevant to people in need through a series of new initiatives. Among them is the European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps, foreseen by the Treaty of Lisbon, which aims to provide our citizens with an exciting opportunity to make a difference in our increasingly challenging world. We are now equipped with a modern food assistance approach, building on the lessons learned from years of practice and experience. We encourage local purchase, to help both the hungry and the local farmers, and press for more attention to the nutrition for the most vulnerable, especially kids and pregnant women.

The publication of ECHO’s annual report gives us a valuable opportunity to share our positive and far-reaching experience in humanitarian assistance and civil protection - an experience which has been richer and which has added more value thanks to ECHO’s cooperation with over 200 partners - non-governmental organisations, UN bodies and international organisations.

Over the last year we have touched the lives of about 150 million people around the world.
Th is would have been impossible without the dedicated and selfl ess eff ort of humanitarian workers, many of them Europeans, who often perform their noble work in extremely harsh conditions, and in ever-growing exposure to harassment, threats, kidnappings and killings. Th ose servants to humanity deserve our respect and gratitude. To them, and to the people they help survive, we owe an even greater eff ort to protect and promote the universal values of humanity and solidarity, regardless of religion, culture, race or political considerations.

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