The European Union’s EU Aid Volunteers program sends volunteers from Europe to areas where humanitarian action is needed. It provides aid to local communities and gives European individuals an excellent opportunity to participate in activities that help those in need.
The EU Aid Volunteers program consists of volunteers and organizations from different European countries. It is coordinated by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency of the European Commission (EACEA) in close collaboration with the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO). The purpose of the program is to provide practical support to humanitarian aid projects as well as strengthen local resilience and capacities in areas that are affected by disasters. EU Aid Volunteers give support to humanitarian aid organisations and capacity building in local communities. What makes the program different from other volunteer projects in Europe is the fact that many of those are focused on domestic issues, whereas the EU Aid Volunteers program is focused on humanitarian aid and disaster risk management outside EU countries.
The program makes it possible for European citizens to contribute to humanitarian assistance in places where the help is truly needed. However, EU Aid Volunteers are not sent to emergency response operations or to areas with on-going armed conflict. Currently volunteers are deployed for example in Africa, Middle East, Asia, Latin America and in some parts of Europe (e.g. Ukraine, Albania). Before deployment the volunteers take part in a training programme, which ensures that they are well-prepared for their departure to a non-EU country. The training consists of online training as well as face-to-face training and is mandatory for all volunteers. The face-to-face part of the training takes two weeks, during which the volunteers will receive training on a wide-variety of topics and undergo a simulation practice.
Why does the program matter?
Populations are in dire need of things like clean water, shelter, food assistance and protection after being hit by a disaster. The work of humanitarian organisations and volunteers are therefore necessary, since they are also the first respondents to these basic needs. Humanitarian disasters heavily stretch the resources of humanitarian organizations, resulting in a need for more qualified people. The EU Aid Volunteers program enables European citizens to help fill that need. Organisations can cover their basic staff needs through the program and the whole humanitarian community benefits from the qualified people that the EU Aid Volunteers program creates.
[bctt tweet=”Humanitarian disasters heavily stretch the resources of humanitarian organizations, resulting in a need for more qualified people. ” username=”eurooppanuoret”]
The EU Aid Volunteers projects are run by organisations based in the European Union in partnership with non-EU-based hosting organizations, in order to enhance the capacity of the non-EU organizations to prepare for and respond to different humanitarian crises. Under the program, funding is also provided for technical assistance to organizations in the European Union for purposes of strengthening their technical capacity in order to meet the standards and procedures required in the EU Aid Volunteers program.
Good to know for hopeful applicants
Participants of the EU Aid Volunteers program are required to be over 18 years of age and citizens or long-term residents of an EU Member State. Most positions also require a relevant degree, experience, and language skills. The deployments usually last between 1-18 months and during that the volunteers receive a monthly allowance. In addition, the European Union supports the volunteers with accommodation, travel, insurance, and a post-deployment resettlement allowance.
[bctt tweet=”Participants of the EU Aid Volunteers program are required to be over 18 years of age and citizens or long-term residents of an EU Member State. ” username=”eurooppanuoret”]
The program is usually always looking to fill some vacancies, so those interested in showing their solidarity to other parts of the world and helping to make people’s lives better should consider to check-out the current vacancies or to keep tabs in the future if something suitable for one’s skill-set comes along.
TEXT Anttoni Saarinen
PHOTO European Parliament
The writer studies international relations at Tallinn University. His interests include the EaP initiative as well as environmental issues.