Humanitarian aid brings relief in times of need
Every year hundreds of millions of people suffer as the result of natural disasters, wars, armed conflicts, and other crises. The goal of humanitarian aid is to save lives, relieve human suffering, and to maintain human dignity during a crisis. In addition to material aid, protection of the civilian population is also an essential part of humanitarian aid.
Finnish humanitarian aid is based on international humanitarian law, international human rights treaties, and laws regarding refugees. Aid is provided following the principles of impartiality, independence, equality, and humanity.
Finland is committed to following the principles for good humanitarian aid laid down by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC). These principles emphasise the provision of aid solely on the basis of need – and not on any political, military, or economic basis.
Finland first requires that the recipient country has made a formal request to the UN for aid. The UN evaluates the country’s need for aid and makes a request for aid through the UN aid organisations.
Aid where the need is greatest
Finland is committed to channelling annually 10 percent of all of its development aid appropriations through humanitarian aid. Humanitarian aid is directed to official development assistance recipient countries (ODA).
Finland finances those activities which are necessary in a crisis to save human life, preserve livelihoods, and restore communities. The choice of recipient countries is based on such factors as how wide the crisis has spread, how large the numbers of people affected are, the mortality rate, and the estimated numbers of sick and dying, those in need, and acutely malnourished children under the age of five.
Organisations bring aid to where it is needed
Finland emphasises the primary role of the UN in coordinating the provision of aid to recipient countries, and supports the UN’s current restructuring of the humanitarian aid process. The goal of this reform is to create an efficient and well coordinated international humanitarian aid system.
At present, Finland channels its funds for humanitarian aid through the UN organisations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, as well as through the Finnish Red Cross, Finn Church Aid, and Fida International.
Many international and national organisations are active in the area of humanitarian aid. It is important that the organisation delivering aid has the required authority to operate in the crisis zone, and that it is actually able to bring aid to where it is needed in an emergency situation. Humanitarian aid organisations chosen to deliver aid must be reliable, independent, and impartial. Finland grants support to those organisations that operate openly, responsibly, and effectively.
- UN process of restructuring humanitarian aid
- UN General Assembly Resolution 46/182, 1991 "Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian emergency assistance of the United Nations"
- UN OCHA – Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Humanitarian aid guidelines set forth the principles of providing aid
Finland’s revised Guidelines for Humanitarian Aid, as well as those for the use of appropriations, were issued in October of 2012 and will come into force at the beginning of 2013.
Finland emphasises that all humanitarian activities should pay special attention to vulnerable groups and to environmental effects, and that they should promote gender equality and the reduction of inequalities of all kind. Finland promotes protection of civilians by supporting the ratification and implementation of international agreements on the position and treatment of refugees and internally displaced persons.
Moving from a crisis situation back to a normal everyday society is full of challenges. Finland has adopted an approach which flexibly combines prevention, humanitarian aid, and building peace, along with reconstruction and development aid. The different phases of this ”continuum approach” support each other and help people overcome the crisis.
Alongside humanitarian aid, Finland supports activities related to clearing mine fields in countries with a serious land mine problem. For example, agricultural fields can be reclaimed for farming if they are cleared of land mines when the conflict is over.
Humanitarian aid 2012 (PDF, April 11, 2013)
Humanitarian mine action (15.5.2012, PDF)