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New ‘EU Aid Volunteers’ pilot scheme helps VSO rebuild South Sudan’s health system

VSO yesterday (19 September) welcomed “EU Aid Volunteers”, a new European Commission initiative which will recruit 10,000 EU citizens to volunteer worldwide in humanitarian operations. The European Commission yesterday set out its plans for the new initiative, which will provide a path for Europeans who want to offer practical help in countries where it is most urgently needed.

VSO is running one of the pilot projects paving the way for the initiative, together with Romanian volunteering organization Pro Vobis. Four skilled professionals are already in place in South Sudan with another ten to follow in November, helping to rebuild the country’s health system after years of conflict. VSO will also send volunteers to work with partners in Bangladesh on disaster preparedness, helping to build the resilience of communities often affected by natural disasters.

Joris Eekhout, Director of VSO Netherlands said:
“EU Aid Volunteers is a welcome initiative. VSO is proud to play a role in supporting the EC to recruit more Europeans to volunteer their skills in some of the world’s poorest countries.

“As part of the pilot project, we are recruiting skilled professionals to work in placements ranging from three months to two years in South Sudan and Bangladesh. These volunteers work with local partner organizations to leave a legacy that lasts long after their placement has ended.

“Volunteers in South Sudan are helping to rebuild the capacity of the health system and its workers after years of conflict. Those in Bangladesh will work with poor and marginalized communities to help them protect themselves against the natural disasters which affect the region.”

The ultimate aim of the initiative and the various pilot projects is to create a corps of European humanitarian volunteers which will be fully operational in 2014. Today this aim comes a little bit closer as the European Commission sets out the new regulations underpinning the project.

Anyone interested in volunteering on the project can find out more at: http://euaidvolunteers.vsointernational.org

Editor's notes

About VSO

VSO is different from most organisations that fight poverty. Instead of sending money or food, we bring people together to share skills and knowledge. In doing so, we create lasting change. VSO volunteers work in whatever fields are necessary to address the forces that keep people in poverty – from education and health through helping people learn the skills they need to make a living. In doing so they invest in local people, so the impact they have endures long after their placement ends.

For more information please contact:
Steve Ballinger, VSO media office, tel. +44 (0)20 8780 7632 / +44 (0)7500 918 478

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