Spain celebrates global humanitarian aid workers

Spanish aid worker Alejandra Escalada works with NGO Manos Unidos in Senegal. Photo: Manos Unidos via Europa Press
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• Since 2006, Spain’s ‘Dia del Cooperante’ celebrates overseas aid workers
• Despite cuts, Spanish NGOs still provide humanitarian aid in 110 countries

As overseas humanitarian relief organisations across Spain celebrate the 10th anniversary today of Spain’s Dia del Cooperante (Day of the Aid Worker), the Coordinating Council of Development NGOs of Spain (CONGDE) notes that the number of Spanish humanitarian aid workers worldwide has fallen in recent years as the management of overseas aid projects launched by Spain-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has diminished. The decrease has been due both to cuts in Spanish government support since the 2008-2010 economic crisis and as part of a process to hand control of projects over to local in-country teams of aid workers.

Established in 2006 by Royal decree to honor the overseas humanitarian aid work of Spanish volunteers and NGOs and underscore the development aid and humanitarian relief aspects of Spanish foreign policy worldwide, the 8th September annual Dia del Cooperante is being celebrated this year in a variety of ways by NGOs large and small, from the well-known Spanish Cruz Roja (Red Cross) and the Catholic church’s Caritas aid organisation to many of the smaller humanitarian NGOs among the 80 that are currently members of CONGDE.

According to CONGDE vice-president Francesc Mateu, as humanitarian aid NGOS working overseas phase out the Spanish volunteer and staff participation in projects as part of a shift to ensure sustainability of aid projects via greater participation of local in-country aid workers, the number of CONGDE member organisations has fallen from 108 in 2008 to 80 since 2013, while the number of projects supported has fallen by 55 percent from 6,200 in 2008 to just 2,800 since 2013.

Overall, Mateu told the Europa Press news agency, CONGDE member organisations still have a presence in 100 countries woldwide and support 35 million vulnerable people through their humanitarian relief efforts.

► Read More in Spanish at Europa Press, Noticias de Huesca and El País …

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