rescEU: supporting the development of new emergency shelter reserves with €116 million

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

To further strengthen emergency response, the EU is developing its own shelter reserves that can be deployed in the context of crises or disasters that overwhelm national response capacities. The EU is today allocating €116.6 million to Croatia, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Türkiye to procure and host new rescEU shelter reserves able to accommodate thousands of people.

These reserves will consist of high quality emergency shelter units such as light prefabricated structures, flat-pack containers and emergency tents. The living units will be complemented by other facilities such as showers and toilets, industrial kitchens, laundry and communal areas, with special attention paid to safe spaces for children and the most vulnerable. The reserves have been developed to provide a high degree of comfort in an emergency context, while ensuring rapid deployment. Moreover, 20% of the units as well as the communal spaces have been designed for people with mobility problems or disabilities, to ensure accessibility for all.

The reserves ensure lower environmental impacts at all stages of the project. This is the case within the manufacturing process (reducing waste, minimising transport with components produced in Europe and choosing recycled or reusable materials) and  deployment (with innovative designs that minimise cargo volume and with a geographical repartition that will minimise travel distances). Environmental aspects are also embraced when it comes to the use of the shelter units (with water purification and atmospheric caption systems to reduce the usage of bottled water, solar panels and efficient generators in case electricity is not available, and recycling facilities).

The first shelter units will be available within the next year to support EU Member States or Participating States of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism in case of a need to rapidly host high numbers of people.


The rescEU emergency shelter reserve includes temporary sleeping units, showers, toilets, basic toiletry kits, and communal spaces for gathering or eating. The Commission has also procured thousands of beds that can be used in temporary accommodation centres to welcome refugees or internally displaced persons. This new reserve comes in addition to the previously allocated €62.3 million for emergency shelter and a stock of beds to be used for the Ukraine crisis in emergency reception centres. From this initial rescEU reserve, 3,000 equipped relief housing units and almost 5,000 additional beds were deployed to Ukraine and neighbouring countries such as Slovakia. Furthermore, 500 units and 2,000 emergency tents were sent to Türkiye following the earthquakes. These emergency units have the capacity to host up to 25,000 people and are also being used as day centres or ‘‘heating points”, where affected population can receive information, get a warm drink while charging their phones, or children can safely play.

Following the activation of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, rescEU provides an extra layer of protection and ensures a faster and more comprehensive response to disasters. The rescEU reserve is 100% EU-financed and the European Commission maintains, in close cooperation with the country hosting the reserve, control of their operation. In an emergency, the rescEU reserve provides assistance to all EU Member States, Participating States to the Mechanism and can also be deployed to EU neighbouring countries.   

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