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Greece participates actively in the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations whenever an emergency arises in Europe and beyond. The country’s responsible authority for the management of the above actions is the General Secretariat for Civil Protection (GSCP), which aims to strengthen catastrophe prevention, readiness, and response. This support is a clear expression of the EU's solidarity with people in need around the world. Greek citizens can take part in these actions as EU humanitarian aid volunteers. This programme offers Greek citizens opportunities to contribute to humanitarian action. It is open to a variety of participant profiles, from newcomers to experienced humanitarian aid experts.
The GSCP, through a special information system, and based on the procedures of the European Mechanism Activation Policy, coordinates the provision and receipt of requests for assistance through the EU and International Organisations (EU, NATO, etc.) as well as through the activation of bilateral or multilateral government agreements.
The Youth and Lifelong Learning Foundation (INEDIVIM) is the National Agency implementing the European Solidarity Corps (ESC). This is an EU funding programme, which creates opportunities for young people wishing to volunteer and implement their own solidarity projects, that will benefit communities across Europe. The age of participants can vary from 18 to 30 years, and participating in a solidarity project can constitute an important non-formal learning experience, through which young people can enhance their personal, educational and social development. According to the new 2021-2027 programme, ‘the activities can take place either abroad or in the participants’ country of residence. Individual volunteering can last up to 12 months, whereas team volunteering usually lasts between 2 weeks and 2 months’. As referred to the ESC 2018-2019 Annual Report, 80 projects and 731 participants, 42% of which with fewer opportunities, were contracted in the programme in volunteering actions.
When a major disaster occurs in a foreign country, the foreign authorities may contact the Greek authorities for aid. The official request of services for assistance from abroad in order to deal with any form of disaster, is submitted exclusively through the General Secretariat for Civil Protection (GSCP), which informs volunteers about the current issue.
The policy of the GSCP, regarding the management of the requests of foreign authorities for assistance with means and human resources, for the confrontation of large-scale natural and technological disasters, concerns the immediate response and the coordination of the involved bodies, including volunteers. The aim is to effectively manage international assistance.
Also, the United Nations have launched a special youth volunteering programme called UN Youth Volunteers. Volunteers are young people between the ages of 18 and 29 wishing to take part in development and peace initiatives around the world; Greek citizens can work in the fields of human rights, climate change adaptation, primary health care, disaster management, housing peace, youth participation or in many other areas.
Legal framework applying to foreign volunteers
There is no legal framework for foreign volunteers in Greece and it’s not currently being discussed in the country. All foreign volunteers need to follow the rules imposed by the respective volunteer organisation / programme.