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Humanitarian aid is material or logistical assistance provided for humanitarian purposes, typically in response to humanitarian crises. The primary objective of humanitarian aid is to save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain human dignity. It may therefore be distinguished from development aid, which seeks to address the underlying socioeconomic factors which may have led to a crisis or emergency.

According to a Londonmarker-based research establishment, whose findings were released in April 2009, the most lethal year in the history of humanitarianism was 2008, in which 122 aid workers were murdered and 260 assaulted. The unsafest countries were Somaliamarker and Afghanistanmarker.


They are funded by donations from individuals, corporations, governments and other organizations. The funding and delivery of humanitarian aid is increasingly being organized at an international level to facilitate faster and more effective responses to major emergencies affecting large numbers of people (eg. see Central Emergency Response Fund). The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) coordinates the international humanitarian response to a crisis or emergency pursuant to Resolution 46/182 of the United Nations General Assembly.


Working with its partners, disaster survivors, and others, Humanitarian Accountability Partnership International (or HAP International) produced the HAP 2007 Standard in Humanitarian Accountability and Quality Management. This certification scheme aims to provide assurance that certified agencies are managing the quality of their humanitarian actions in accordance with the HAP standard. In practical terms, a HAP certification (which is valid for three years) means providing external auditors with access to the organization’s mission statement, accounts and control systems, providing for greater transparency in operations and overall accountability.

As described by HAP-International, the HAP 2007 Standard in Humanitarian Accountability and Quality Management is a quality assurance tool for humanitarian organizations. By comparing an organization's processes, policies and products to the Standard's six benchmarks, it is possible to measure how well the organization assures quality and accountability in its humanitarian work.Agencies that comply with the Standard:
  • declare their commitment to HAP's Principles of Humanitarian Action and to their own Humanitarian Accountability Framework
  • develop and implement a Humanitarian Quality Management System
  • provide key information about quality management to key stakeholders
  • enable beneficiaries and their representatives to participate in program decisions and give their informed consent
  • determine the competencies and development needs of staff
  • establish and implement complaints-handling procedure
  • establish a process of continual improvement

The Sphere Project handbook, Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response, which was produced by a coalition of leading non governmental humanitarian agencies, lists the following principles of humanitarian action:
  • The right to life with dignity
  • The distinction between combatant and non-combatants
  • The principle of non-refoulement

The Quality Project, based on the Quality Compass, is an alternative project to Sphere, taking into account the side effects of standardization and those of an approach based on "minima" rather than the pursuit of quality. This project is led by Groupe URD.

See also

Organisations Organisation types


Volunteer Medics Worldwide PVO/NGO a US based organisation has been providing Humanitarian Aid, Medical Supplies,First Responder Trainging and Prevention of Blindness exams and treatment in Afghanistan since the Spring of 2007.Volunteer Medics Worldwide also trains local Afghan people to recognize and treat minor medical issues leaving a much largerpositive footprint in the country.


  • Waters, Tony (2001). Bureaucratizing the Good Samaritan: The Limitations of Humanitarian Relief Operations. Boulder: Westview Press.

External links

Critiques of Humanitarian Aid

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