The 2014 class of the joint master program “Geography of Environmental Risk and Human Security” of the United Nations University/University of Bonn went on a trip in December to the European Commission Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG-ECHO) in Brussels, Belgium as part of their studies.
The educational trip was marked by seven seminars geared towards creating an understanding of the work of the DG-ECHO to the students. The first seminar introduced students to the Emergency Response and Humanitarian Assistance functions of the DG-ECHO. The core mandate of the DG-ECHO is to provide humanitarian assistance, relief, and protection to people in third world countries. The second seminar focused on the structure and functions of the Emergency Response Coordination Center (ERCC), of the European Commission. The ERCC is been referred to as the “Operational Heart” of the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism enables the EU to respond to devastating events, either natural or man-made in a timely and efficient manner. The main duties of the ERCC includes the collection and analysis of real –time or up to date data on disasters, monitoring of hazards, the preparation of plans for the deployment of emergency relief experts, teams, as well as equipment. The third seminar was on the Copernicus Emergency Management Service, which has been operational since 2012 and its functions include the provisioning of maps and analysis based on satellite imagery, before, during, and after a disaster. It also provides warning systems for floods and fires.
The second day in Brussels was marked by four more seminars. The first highlighted the World Humanitarian Summit to take place in May 2016. The second seminar introduced students to the INFORM project, which is a global or worldwide open-source risk assessment for humanitarian crisis and disasters. The third seminar for the second day was on the “EU Aid Volunteer Initiative”. Finally students were briefed on the world of work within the European Commission. The recruitment procedures alongside requirements for specific jobs were clearly spelled out to students.
(Article by Issaka A. Sule, Masters Student, Geography of Environmental Risk and Human Security 2014)