To express our profound concern at the fact that the projects funded under the EU Aid Volunteers framework as part of the 2019 funding round were put on hold by DG ECHO in March 2020 and remain in semi-stasis one and a half years later. They remain in this state due to the fact that the vacancy portal is not open, missions cannot technically be shared with a reserve list of trained volunteers, and there are a variety of impediments to carrying out volunteer training in a different format to the one initially envisaged prior to COVID-19.
Furthermore, we have not received a firm reply from our grant contacts on when these issues will be resolved. The non-EU partners urge for support, more than ever, the candidates are unsure about their future and sending organisations require clarity and a map in order to implement the project as a whole.
Given the above, we would like to request DG EAC to:
- reopen the implementation of the face-to-face training or propose any suitable alternative;
- have smaller groups in different countries to facilitate the participation of the candidates in this compulsory training;
- carry out the training online with the possibility of participating in the Security module in their own countries;
- reopen the vacancies;
- share the missions within the reserve list of trained volunteers.
During the last meeting, the EACEA informed us that both the registration for the EUAV training held by the European Commission and re-opening of positions will commence again in spring 2021 with a possibility of deploying volunteers in autumn 2021. With this in mind, the consortiums decided to extend the projects by one year, hoping that the deployments will finally be possible. Thus far, we have not been informed about the progress of the training, nor about the publication of vacancies. In order to be able to deploy the volunteers for the 12 month missions, the deployments need to start in the beginning of December 2021 at the latest.
As of today, the numbers of vaccinated people are steadily increasing and countries that were under strict lockdown have started to open their borders. Importantly, new deployments have been possible under other programmes in cooperation with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the Embassies in the host countries.
Furthermore, both the sending and the host organisations have adopted their work and tools online, with a reduced number of participants, and installed further security measures and protocols to prevent the spread of the virus. An assessment was carried out amongst 34 international organisations in January 2021 by ADICE. The results revealed that 76% of the respondents were able to adapt to the new context while only 10% stopped their activities in January 2021. 81% of the respondents stated that they could continue their work with international volunteers. Despite the latter finding, the host organisations face clear struggles in their day to day work, and in proving continuity and stability of their projects. Some of the projects were run with the support of the EU Aid volunteers, most of which ended in 2020.
The sending and host organisations certified under EU Aid Volunteers prepare themselves to be part of the European Solidarity Corps, Humanitarian Aid strand and strive to meet the standards. However, we cannot provide solidarity without the support of the DG EAC in the current sanitary and economic crisis and find alternative solutions to difficulties that last since March 2020, and may continue under the new programme.
By clicking on the link below, you can have access to the joint letter,
ADICE – France
ADRA – Slovakia
Fundación Alianza por los Derechos, la Igualdad y la Solidaridad Internacional
Fundación APY – Spain
ASPEm – Italy
CEV – Belgium
Médicos del Mundo – Spain
MONDO – Estonia
Volonteurope – Belgium