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Humanitarian aid brings relief in times of need

In 2015, Finland's humanitarian aid amounted to over EUR 97.8 million.  The biggest recipients were the Syria crisis, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.  In 2016, humanitarian aid is planned to amount to EUR 78 million.  Humanitarian aid is financed from Finland's development cooperation appropriations.

Every year hundreds of millions of people suffer as the result of natural disasters, armed conflicts and other crises. Humanitarian aid is provided on the basis of need, with the goal of saving human lives, relieving human suffering, and maintaining human dignity during a crisis.

Focusing aid where the need is greatest

The global need for humanitarian aid has never been greater.  At the start of 2016, the United Nations' consolidated appeals for humanitarian crises amounted to over EUR 18 billion, half of which  responding to the needs of the victims of the Syrian crisis.

Finland's humanitarian aid in 2016 – situation in March 2016 (infographics in Finnish)

Finnish aid is directed to countries that have made a formal aid request to the UN, provided that their humanitarian situation has been subject to a reliable needs assessment and a UN-coordinated consolidated appeal has been made by humanitarian aid organisations.

When making an aid decision, Finland considers several factors: the width of the crisis, the proportion of the population affected by it, the numbers of dead and sick, those in need of emergency aid and acutely malnourished children under the age of five.

Finland is committed to channeling annually about 10 percent of its development aid appropriations for humanitarian aid directed to official development assistance recipient countries (ODA).

What is humanitarian aid provided for and why – the situation in March 2016 (infographics in Finnish)

pdf Finlands humanitarian aid 2016, infographics (17.3.2016, PDF, 2 pages, 1,26 mb)

Vuonna 2014 Suomi myönsi tukea kriisitilanteisiin Afrikassa, Lähi-idässä, Lounais-Aasiassa ja Kaakkois-Aasiassa.
In 2014, Finland provided aid to crisis situations in Africa, the Middle East, Southwest Asia and Southeast Asia.

Organisations bring disaster aid where it is needed

It is important for Finland that the organisations it supports operate openly, responsibly, effectively and impartially. The organisations delivering aid must have sufficient authority to operate in affected crisis zones and the ability to bring aid where it is needed in an emergency situation.

Katukauppaa sodan runtelemassa kaupunginosassa Etelä-Damaskoksessa Syyriassa elokuussa 2012.In 2014, Finland granted humanitarian aid to many countries, including Syria. The photo shows people shopping in a war-torn street in south Damascus in August 2012. Photo: Rauli Virtanen

The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs channels its funds for humanitarian aid through UN bodies (e.g. UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF), the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies IFRC), and through Finnish organisations that have signed a framework partnership agreement with the European Commission's Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO). At present, these organisations include Fida International, Finn Church Aid (FCA), Save the Children Finland, the Finnish Red Cross, World Vision Finland and Plan International Finland.

These organisations are engaged in concrete aid work in crisis locations, distributing food aid, improving refugees' living conditions by building schools and supporting the education of children, and enhancing health care, water supply and sanitation in refugee camps. Creating proper conditions for livelihoods speeds up recovery from the crisis and prepares the ground for reconstruction and the return of refugees and those who have fled their homes.

Protecting the civilian population is an essential part of aid in conflicts and situations of unrest. Children, for instance, need special protection when disasters strike, since they are at risk of being separated from their families and may end up the victims of violence and abuse or be recruited as child soldiers. Women and girls, who may fall victims of sexual violence used as a means of warfare, also need special support.

pdfHumanitarian aid allocations in 2016 (18 March, 2016, PDF)

pdfHumanitarian aid allocations in 2015 (17 December, 2015, PDF)

Further information on international humanitarian aid:

Assistance must be impartial

Finnish humanitarian action is based on international humanitarian law, international human rights treaties, refugee law, and the principles endorsed by the UN. Finland is committed to adhering to the principles of Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD).

Internationally agreed good practices highlight humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence. Aid is to be provided solely on the basis of need, and not for political, military or economic reasons.

The principles guiding Finnish action are defined in Finland's Humanitarian Policy, the Guideline Concerning Humanitarian Assistance and the Use of Funding, and the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid.

It is important for Finland that humanitarian activities focus on vulnerable groups (e.g. disabled persons), environmental effects, the promotion of equality and the reduction of inequality.

Finland helps clear away mines and supports mine victims

Alongside humanitarian aid, Finland supports humanitarian mine-action efforts in countries with a serious land mine problem. Mine action furthers, for example, the rehabilitation of mine victims and the clearance of mine fields to reclaim land for farming.

pdfAid for humanitarian mine action in 2015 (29.10.2015, PDF)

pdfAid for humanitarian mine action in 2014 (3.10.2014, PDF)

Finland as an active player in humanitarian assistance

Finland actively participates in humanitarian aid cooperation at EU level and within the international donor community as well as in the executive boards of the organisations it finances. Within the EU, the main channel of influence is the Council Working Party on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid, COHAFA.

Finland emphasizes the leading role of the UN in aid coordination and supports the UN’s current humanitarian aid reform whose goal is to create an efficient and well-coordinated international humanitarian aid system.

Finland played a central role in the preparations of the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) which was held in Istanbul in May 2016.

Along with field missions and dialogues with secretariats, participation in donor cooperation and in the work of executive boards is crucial for monitoring and supervising Finland's assistance.

From humanitarian aid to development cooperation

When a crisis-torn country or region is returning to normalcy, it faces many challenges. For Finland, it is important that crisis prevention, humanitarian aid, peace-building, reconstruction, and development aid are flexibly combined. These different phases are part of a continuum; they support each other and help people overcome the crisis.

Measures to prevent disaster risks, limit damage and improve the capacities of organisations to act in emergencies are also considered important.


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