Humanitarian action aims to protect and save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering and meet the basic needs of the population from a vulnerability reduction and capacity-building perspective.
In this sense, the 5th Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2018-2021, with its motto of leaving no one behind, faces the paradigm shift pointed out by the Agenda for Humanity arising from the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 and the humanitarian "Grand Bargain" of that same year. Furthermore, in March 2019 the new Spanish Cooperation Strategy for Humanitarian Action (2019-2026) was adopted, with a multilateral focus and a Europeanist perspective.
The Humanitarian Action Office of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) is the unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, responsible for coordinating and leading Spanish humanitarian action, both in the implementation of aid in humanitarian crises and in international and regional humanitarian forums.
START team at disaster caused by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique (2019). Photo: Miguel Lizana /AECID.
Since its creation, AECID has managed more than one billion euros and has reached more than three million people affected by humanitarian crises, whether due to conflicts or natural disasters, in Syria, the Sahel and Lake Chad, the Saharawi refugee camps, the Palestinian Territories or Latin America and the Caribbean.
The AECID has three deployment points to respond to humanitarian crises: the humanitarian logistics centre at Torrejón de Ardoz, with the capacity to act simultaneously in more than one crisis; the Spanish Cooperation Centre in Latin America, located in Panama, and the World Food Programme (WFP) humanitarian logistics base in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which covers crises in West and Central Africa.
In order to contribute to improving the response of Spanish humanitarian action in emergencies, the "Red Vests" or START (Spanish Technical Aid Response Team) project was launched in 2018. This is an initiative which enables Spain to have a top-level health team of professionals belonging to the public health system ready to be deployed to any corner of the world where a humanitarian emergency occurs. In April 2019, this team was deployed for the first time to Dondo (Mozambique) in response to the emergency caused by Cyclone Idai.
Her Majesty, Queen Letizia, visits one of the hostels worst affected by the hurricanes suffered in 2020 in La Lima (Honduras). Photo: EFE.
In recent years, support for humanitarian aid has continued, reflected in actions such as Spain's return to the International Committee of the Red Cross donor group in October 2017, after five years' absence, or its re-entry into the WFP Executive Board until 2024, and in appointments such as the chair of the OCHA Donor Support Group (ODSG) from July 2019 to June 2020.
Spanish Cooperation's Humanitarian Action Strategy 2019-2026
Spain's follow-up report to the World Humanitarian Summit