Humanitarian Aid

A girl and a boy study under candlelight.

The people of Gaza are battling a pandemic, unemployment, and poverty while trying to cling to hope. UNRWA launched the 2021 Ramadan campaign so everyone has enough to eat during this holy month.

people wading through flood waters

From Sudan to Afghanistan to Bangladesh, the effects of climate change are creating more need for humanitarian aid in the form of food, shelter and medical care. The impacts are unevenly weighted against the poorest people and those with the least resources to withstand climate shocks and stresses. Over half of all humanitarian crises are somewhat predictable and 20 per cent are very predictable. Yet less than 1 per cent of humanitarian appeals funding is channelled to anticipatory action. Extreme climate- and weather-related events are more common and severe, yet most humanitarian responses continue to be launched only after extreme weather events have already resulted in critical damages to the most vulnerable people. We need to prevent extreme weather events from becoming humanitarian disasters through more effective disaster risk reduction and management, including early warning, anticipatory action and early action. 

two young boys from Syria

On the eve of the fifth Brussels conference for Syria, the United Nations humanitarian, refugee and development chiefs have urged international donors to step up and stand with the millions of people in Syria and the region who depend on life-saving humanitarian aid and livelihood support after a decade of war. With the added impact of COVID-19, there is no respite for civilians in Syria. They face increasing hunger and poverty, continued displacement and ongoing attacks. Today 24 million people need humanitarian or other forms of assistance in Syria and the region, four million more than in 2020.

young Syrian children warming themselves over a fire

As the conflict in Syria reaches its tenth year this month, the losses and effects are staggering. Almost 5 million children born in Syria since the conflict began have never known peaceful times, and a million more Syrian children were born as refugees in neighbouring countries. The pandemic is exacerbating humanitarian needs, affecting an already depleted workforce and stretching the country’s debilitated health system beyond capacity. These 10 numbers provide a snapshot of the 10-year Syria conflict.

portrait of a girl

Angam, 7, has six brothers and sisters. She stopped going to school, because her family cannot afford schoolbooks, bags and uniforms. This portrait series was photographed in south Yemen in late 2020 by photographer Giles Clarke. It is the result of years of work documenting Yemen and the lives of those affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis. It highlights the resilience, strength and hope of the Yemeni people. They fled violence in search of safety. They lost their homes, family members, friends, neighbours. They live in makeshift shelters, not knowing when they'll be able to return home.

child holding up palm painted red

The Compact for Young People in Humanitarian Action aims to protect young people and adolescents, while recognising that they are invaluable partners in responding effectively to COVID-19 and its effects felt in societies across the globe.

Yemen. A small child is fed a nutrition bar.

Nearly 2.3 million children under the age of five in Yemen are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021, four United Nations agencies have warned. Of these, 400,000 are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition and could die if they do not receive urgent treatment. The agencies also warned that these were among the highest levels of severe acute malnutrition recorded in Yemen since the escalation of conflict in 2015. Malnutrition damages a child’s physical and cognitive development, especially during the first two years of a child’s life. It is largely irreversible, perpetuating illness, poverty and inequality. The humanitarian response remains critically underfunded. 

The climate crisis is a humanitarian crisis. Members of the IASC highlight how global climate action must prioritize support to the most vulnerable in preventing, preparing for and adapting to the ongoing crisis.

A group of men in the middle of a river building a dike with logs and bags of sand.

Each year, thousands of residents get displaced due to flash floods in Bor, South Sudan. Last year a long embankment constructed to contain the flow of water, collapsed after continued flooding. IOM and partners conducted a detailed technical assessment and identified sections of the dike that were susceptible to further damage. Based on its findings, IOM began repair and maintenance work in the dike by procuring sandbags, wooden posts and bamboo poles to strengthen exposed sections. Youth from the community voluntarily participated in repair works for over a month.

Midwives visit a temporary shelter

A new report by UNFPA names Yemen as the country where the needs of women and girls in humanitarian emergencies are greatest. Since conflict escalated in 2015, conditions in the country have steadily collapsed, resulting in internal displacement, food insecurity and cholera outbreaks — all exacerbated by COVID-19. Only half of Yemen’s health-care facilities remain operational, and gender-based violence is on the rise. Some $100 million is needed for Yemen in 2021, where over 80 per cent of the population requires some form of assistance.

A group of people carry big sacks on their backs.

Having taken up his current position as WFP Country Director in Chad after experiences in war-torn countries — most recently, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) — Claude Jibidar has witnessed first-hand how conflict and hunger feed each other. “While conflict is widely acknowledged as one of the main drivers of hunger, there are also many examples where hunger is at the roots of conflict… We must come together to seek pathways to peace and stability and avert the loss of a generation of children to hunger and malnutrition induced by conflict,” says Jibidar.

Richard Ragan meets with village leaders

In this latest episode of Awake at Night, host Melissa Fleming speaks with Richard Ragan, the Country Director of the World Food Programme in Bangladesh. “I don't want one person that I'm responsible for to be hungry. And you know, that, that keeps me up at night, for sure. But the thing that scares me, probably more than anything, and, you know, there's no vaccination for it is, is climate change. You know, I think COVID is a wake-up call for all of us, it does not discriminate. It's like the waves or the mountains, it doesn't care.”

A woman carrying a pale on her head, holds out stems with leaves.

Why South Sudan must give peace a chance

Stack of canned food.

Donating goods overseas after disasters can be unhelpful and even harmful, and with the Pacific Cyclone season now in full swing, WFP has begun a campaign urging people to donate more responsibly.  

A man stands surrounded by a swarm of flying locust.

Floods, locusts and COVID-19; Somalia’s triple threat