Picture by VENRO
On 3 March, European Commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management Christos Stylianides met German NGOs from VENRO in Berlin. VENRO is the umbrella organisation of 124 humanitarian and development NGOs in Germany. Dr Inez Kipfer-Didavi, who is policy advisor for international assistance at Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe Germany as well as Board member of VENRO, welcomed EU-Commissioner Christos Stylianides and moderated the discussion.
EU-Commissioner Christos Stylianides started by stressing the importance of integrating child refugees in the host countries’ national education systems. In this regard, he recalled that the EU humanitarian budget has boosted funding for ‘Education in Emergencies’.
Furthermore, the participants discussed the 'Refugee Facility for Turkey', a three-billion fund which will support humanitarian aid and development projects for refugees residing in Turkey. Its geographical position makes Turkey a major first reception and transit country for refugees and migrants. The country is hosting more than 3.1 million registered refugees and has already spent more than €7 billion of its own resources on addressing this crisis.
EU-Commissioner Stylianides stressed the key role of humanitarian NGOs in providing efficient assistance to refugees in Syria and its neighboring countries as well as in the Balkan route and within the EU countries. For the latter, the European Commission just made 700 EUR available for the next three years.
This 'Emergency Assistance Instrument' serves to provide a faster and more targeted response to the current crises within the EU. The initiative comes as the refugee crisis reaches an unprecedented scale with the need to provide immediate emergency support in several Member States hosting large amounts of refugees on their territories.
In regard with the preparation of the World Humanitarian Summit, which will take place in Istanbul in May 2016, Dr Kipfer-Didavi advocated for:
• the protection of the necessary freedom to act for the civil society worldwide;
• a more flexible and multi-year financing model for the humanitarian work of the NGOs;
• administrative simplification for NGOs regarding project proposals and reporting;
• increase of EU resources to strengthen local partners as ‘first responders’.
Additionally, Dr Kipfer-Didavi welcomed the effort for more transparency in humanitarian financial flows and urged to apply the same rule to the different EU-Trust Funds.