Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Civil Society Organisations (CSO) and individual citizens have played a key role in providing support to the most vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an article released by the European External Action Service to mark World NGO Day on 26 February.
“NGOs around the world … are documenting human rights violations, providing direct health services to communities or ensuring social assistance to the most vulnerable,” said EU High Representative Josep Borrell. “NGOs are key partners of authorities in the assessment, design and implementation of responses to the pandemic.”
The article stresses that NGOs, CSOs and human rights defenders face constraints of funding, but also of national pressures such as physical threats, harassment and sometimes killings.
“Restrictions and attacks against NGOs are unacceptable. We do not only condemn this, we are also protecting those at risk and promoting an enabling environment for civil society. In the past six years, the EU has provided financial support to some 45,000 human rights defenders through the Protect Defenders Mechanism. This support will continue,” said Borrell.
The EU remains the leading worldwide donor for local civil society organisations in partner countries. Financial support to CSOs has now grown to €2 billion annually. This partnership will be reinforced by the new Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI).
Through the EU mechanism ProtectDefenders.eu, at least 277 human rights organisations and movements have had greater access to flexible, urgent material and financial support to respond to the security threats and protection needs they face and build their resilience.
Find out more