human development, social justice and sustainable social systems
Caritas Europa covers the entire European region from Iceland to Greece and from Portugal to Georgia
When disaster strikes
Caritas is one of the largest humanitarian networks in the world. Most Caritas Europa member organisations are involved in humanitarian action overseas and/or at home. Our humanitarian response is based on principled humanitarian action, International Humanitarian Law and humanitarian standards. We use different types of responses for different sectors depending on the specific needs on the ground. These include rapid emergency response when a disaster strikes, continuous support in a protracted crisis and disaster-risk reduction programmes in order to increase preparedness and reduce vulnerability.
Being rooted in local communities, Caritas is most likely already active on the ground when a disaster strikes. We carry out the initial needs assessment during the first hours of the emergency and share it immediately with the broader European and global network. A few days later we are ready to support families and vulnerable individuals who have lost their homes or livelihoods due to conflict or a natural disaster. We assist migrants and internally displaced people who have been forced to flee from their homes and are in search of protection. Ultimately, no matter the crisis, we strive to join efforts in order to ensure a dignified life for the affected population.
As a general rule, and if capacities allow, the national Caritas organisation in the affected country is the first responder delivering humanitarian assistance. However, it can call on the support of the network in Europe and beyond if need be. In the European region, the Caritas Europa secretariat is at the service of the member organisations to coordinate joint, efficient, qualitative and timely responses among members.
The Caritas organisation of the affected country has at its disposal internal Caritas protocols and a toolkit, as well as the Caritas Europa Emergency Response Mechanism (CE ERM), which set out appropriate guidelines, templates and tools. A supporting staff is also deployed upon request.
An effective response implies adequate capacities, which is why Caritas Europa invests in humanitarian capacity building for its member organisations.
And because of the impact European policies have on humanitarian needs, Caritas Europa also advocates on behalf of its members on key principles and topics vis-à-vis the European Institutions. To make as great an impact on policy as possible, Caritas Europa joins forces with other organisations through NGO VOICE, the network of humanitarian organisations in Europe.
Humanitarian action has been receiving broader attention in the last years, partly thanks to the first World Humanitarian Summit of 2016. Despite this, the call for political solutions to address the root causes of humanitarian crises seems to go unheard. There has been a clear shrinkage in the space for humanitarian action and access to the scenes of crisis is getting more difficult. Furthermore, the gap between humanitarian needs and humanitarian funding is today wider than ever.
The EU and its Member States are crucial stakeholders in the worldwide debate on humanitarian issues. For this reason Caritas Europa and its member organisations are in continuous dialogue with the EU Institutions, sharing the challenges of the humanitarian community and raising the voice of local Caritas organisations and, above all, of the people in need of humanitarian support.
Capacity building is one Caritas Europa’s core responsibilities when it comes to humanitarian action. The secretariat strives to map actions undertaken by its member organisations to explore good practices that can be spread and duplicated in other countries. At the same time, Caritas Europa aims to offer opportunities for sharing and exchanging on specific topics related to humanitarian action, where the learnings can also be adapted and translated to different contexts.
Part of the Caritas Academy, the Humanitarian Action Learning Path is another tool for strengthening the capacities of member organisations in the long-term. Projects funded under the EU Aid Volunteers initiative go in the same direction, as is the case with the TEACH project for example.