The mandate of the European Commission Directorate General for Humanitarian aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) encompasses humanitarian assistance and civil protection, the two main instruments at the European Union's disposal to ensure rapid and effective delivery of EU relief assistance to people faced with the immediate consequences of disasters. DG ECHO provides humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable victims of disasters in their immediate aftermath and also in cases of complex and protracted crisis situations DG ECHO's humanitarian assistance is based on the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, is implemented in partnership with international organisations and humanitarian NGOs and based on solid needs assessment. DG ECHO strongly supports the central and overall coordinating role of the United Nations in promoting a coherent international response to humanitarian crises and helps to make the EU's voice heard in international fora on humanitarian aid. In order to ensure the lasting impact of relief assistance on populations in countries affected by crisis, DG ECHO develops and implements policy frameworks aimed at maximising impact and results, including as regards coherent transition strategies towards sustained development. With regard to its civil protection mandate, DG ECHO encourages and facilitates the cooperation between the 31 States participating in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (28 EU Member States in addition to Iceland, Norway, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) in order to improve the effectiveness of systems for preventing and protecting against natural, technological or man-made disasters in Europe. Day by day, DG ECHO mobilises help for people in need. This help and assistance is a fundamental expression of the European value of solidarity with people in need, as endorsed and underpinned by new legal bases for both humanitarian aid and civil protection enshrined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, as resulting from the Treaty of Lisbon.
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