Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance
- Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
- Humanitarian Affairs — an overview of all UN humanitarian activities.
- United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR)
- The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) - brings together all major humanitarian agencies, both within and outside the UN system. It develops humanitarian policies, agrees on the clear division of responsibilities, and identifies and addresses gaps in response.
- The IASC is chaired by the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator.
- OCHA’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) - launched in March 2006 as an improved financing mechanism to facilitate an immediate response to humanitarian emergencies.
- ReliefWeb. The world’s foremost humanitarian website, it provides the latest information on emergencies worldwide (managed by OCHA).
- IRIN. A news service that offers accurate and impartial reporting and analysis about sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia for the humanitarian community (hosted by OCHA).
- The humanitarian early warning system (HEWS)
- Comprehensive list of OCHA websites.
IASC’s “cluster approach” to humanitarian assistance
The “cluster approach” to humanitarian assistance aims to strengthen humanitarian response by ensuring high standards of predictability, accountability and partnership. Any major new or ongoing emergency is addressed in terms of the following clusters, each with its own lead agency or agencies, and a range of UN and non-UN partners:
- Agriculture - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
- Camp coordination and management - For conflict-induced displacement, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
- For natural disaster migrations, the International Organization for Migration (IOM)
- Education - United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
and the International Save the Children Alliance
- Emergency shelter - For conflict-generated internal displacements, the UNHCR
- For disaster situations, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
- Emergency telecommunications - Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) with telecommunications services provided the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP)
- Health - WHO
- Logistics - World Food Programme (WFP)
- Nutrition - UNICEF
- Protection - UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
- Water, sanitation and hygiene - UNICEF
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is also part of the IASC.
In a given country, upon the occurrence of a complex emergency or when an already existing humanitarian situation worsens in degree or complexity, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, on behalf of the Secretary-General and after consultation with the IASC, designates a Humanitarian Coordinator for that country.
OCHA also helps its IASC partners and the humanitarian coordinator to mobilize resources by launching consolidated inter-agency appeals.
Three United Nations entities have primary roles in providing protection and assistance in humanitarian crises. They are:
- Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
- United Nations Children’s Programme (UNICEF)
- World Food Programme (WFP)
Other major players include:
- United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
- UN peacekeeping operations. For their supportive role, explore individual operations here.
- UN Volunteers (UNV)
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) — monitors impending famines, and other food and agricultural concerns, through its Global Information and Early Warning and Information System (GIEWS).
The World Food Programme (WFP) — analyses the impacts of a crisis on a country's population and explains the interaction between food insecurity, malnutrition, poverty, poor health and care practices and education, through its Emergency Food Security Assessments (EFSA).
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) — carries out tropical cyclone forecasting and drought monitoring.
- World Humanitarian Day, 19 August - Established in December 2008 by the UN General Assembly as a way to increase public understanding of humanitarian assistance activities worldwide and to honour humanitarian workers who have lost their lives or been injured in the course of their work. The Day was first commemorated 19 August 2009. The date chosen, 19 August, is the same day as the Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad in 2003 that led to the death of 22 people including SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello.
- Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters. Outcome of the second World Conference on Disaster Reduction, held from 18 to 22 January 2005 (Kobe, Hyogo, Japan).
- The UN family at work: Pulling together for tsunami aid and recovery.
- Statements by the Emergency Relief Coordinator.