human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Humanitarian action

Raising the voice of those most in need


The EU and its Member States are committed to responding to internal and international humanitarian crises and to providing support to those in need.

However, humanitarian crises are increasing both in terms of quantity and complexity, with natural disasters often going hand in hand with man-made disasters. Furthermore, politics and security aspects sometimes interfere with the delivery of humanitarian aid.

These aspects threaten the ultimate goal of leaving no one behind as well as the implementation of humanitarian principles and International Humanitarian Law.

Caritas Europa remains determined to provide consistent, comprehensive and effective humanitarian aid at the European level in order to save lives and restore dignity to the most vulnerable. This encompasses advocacy efforts both in our confederation and towards international actors on localisation, cash and voucher assistance and other relevant humanitarian topics.

The problem

The European Commission and EU Member States together are by far the biggest humanitarian donor globally.

Nevertheless, the increasing complexity and changing nature of humanitarian crises is threatening the ability to ensure an appropriate, qualitative and sustainable delivery of aid.

We are also concerned by the possible interference of political priorities on the provision of humanitarian support. The recent increases in the number of migrants have, for example, led to an alarming reaction on the part of policymakers to focus on border controls instead of humanitarian aid.

The safety of both aid workers and the people in need and the accessibility to critical areas and vulnerable communities are also non-negotiable elements to be considered, in order to provide consistent help and to maintain the independence, neutrality, humanity and impartiality of aid delivery.

The lack of sufficient funding is another significant challenge to consistent responsiveness. In addition, capacity building and empowerment of local actors, good governance, participation of communities as well as targeted cash based programs are essential to ensure appropriate action in emergencies.

Read more about our work on humanitarian capacity building.

Our solutions

Caritas Europa wants to strengthen the link between policy and practice, enabling a continuous dialogue between Caritas organisations and the concerned European institutions.

In particular with the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (DG ECHO) as the technical provider for humanitarian aid.

We invest in humanitarian policy and advocacy, in particular to reinforce the involvement of local partners in humanitarian aid as declared in the Grand Bargain, the main outcome of the first World Humanitarian Summit of 2016. Support to local actors is not only about money, it is also about access to information and equal opportunities. Read more about our work on localisation.

Caritas Europa actively liaises with NGO VOICE (Voluntary Organisations in Cooperation in Emergencies – the main NGO interlocutor with the EU on emergency aid) in order to highlight the importance of joining capacities and voices on the humanitarian-development nexus, resilience and disaster risk reduction.

We consider Cash and Voucher Assistance to be a powerful tool to restore dignity in humanitarian crises and want to make sure that it is used correctly and reaching those who are most in need. Read more about our work on Cash and Voucher Assistance.

We are aware that humanitarian crises can be protracted. For this reason, we think multi-year planning and financing is fundamental both for organisations providing help and for impacted and implementing partners.

When it comes to ECHO funding, we want to be sure that Caritas is perceived as it is: a strong family providing substantial support to people affected by small and big, visible and forgotten crises worldwide. We also want to be sure that ECHO maintains a diverse set of partners, such as Caritas organisations in Europe, which have long lasting partnerships with grassroots organisations in different areas of the world and which hold specific sectoral expertise.

ask an expert

Silvia Sinibaldi
Humanitarian Director
Tel: +32 (0)2 235 03 95
Mob: +32 (0)478 58 54 08