Två män med Röda Korset västar och motorcyklar står på en dammig grusväg i en by på kongolesisk landsbygd, de tittar in i kameran.

You need a motorcycle to reach internally displaced people in remote rural Congo. The protective work of the Red Cross, here in north Kivu, is supported by Sida.

Photo: Peter Lundberg, Sida

Humanitarian aid

Sida's humanitarian aid

Updated: 19 September 2017

Humanitarian aid includes both material aid and protection of civilians affected by disaster situations. The support is guided by international humanitarian law as well as humanitarian principles. Sida's humanitarian aid also includes prevention of new disasters and the integration of a gender perspective in all contributions.

Humanitarian aid is devoted to saving lives, alleviating suffering and maintaining human dignity in armed conflicts, natural disasters or other disaster situations. Humanitarian contributions often include two parts, material aid and protection. Material aid is for example food, nutrition, shelter, water, sanitation and medical care. Protective work may for example be to register someone as a refugee, but also to educate people in human rights and obligations of international law.

Guiding principles

Humanitarian aid is to a great extent based on international law and its main objective is to alleviate immediate suffering. Normally this means that the assistance terminates when the suffering has been relieved. Sida's humanitarian aid is guided by the humanitarian principles:

  • Humanity: Human suffering shall be alleviated wherever it occurs.
  • Impartiality: Humanitarian aid shall be based upon the needs of those suffering, without regard to gender, ethnicity, religion or political point of view.
  • Neutrality: Humanitarian aid or those who implement the contributions must not take sides in any armed conflict where the humanitarian assistance is carried out.
  • Independence: Humanitarian aid shall be independent of any non-humanitarian regards.

Gender perspective

Traditionally humanitarian aid has not taken into account the different needs of girls, boys, women and men in crisis. While girls are exposed to gender-based violence to a greater extent in armed conflicts, boys are to a greater extent forcibly recruited to guerrilla groups and militias.

We make sure that a gender perspective is integrated in all humanitarian assistance and that people's different needs and conditions are regarded. Preventive work and protection against gender-based violence are priority in humanitarian assistance, based on international humanitarian law.

Synergies with long-term development aid

The main objective of humanitarian aid is to save lives and to alleviate suffering in disaster situations. However, it is also important to strengthen the ability of people and societies to protect themselves and recover from crises and disasters. This is mainly an objective for development cooperation, but Sida works to strengthen synergies between humanitarian aid and development cooperation.

Because of these synergies many of our humanitarian contributions include analysis and actions to prevent disasters and to support early recovery after a disaster.

Sida's humanitarian aid in 2016

  • Sweden's humanitarian aid amounted to 6.5 billion SEK in 2016, whereof 3.6 billion was channelled through Sida. 
  • Sweden was the world's seventh largest humanitarian donor after USA, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Norway and United Arab Emirates.
  • Sida's humanitarian aid contributed to the protection of and relief to people affected by natural disasters and armed conflicts in 56 countries and regions. The humanitarian crises that received the most humanitarian support was the conflict-related crises with refugees and internally displaced persons in the Sahel region, Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, Iraq and Democratic Republic of Congo.

The largest recipients of humanitarian aid 2016 (million SEK)

label shortlabel value
Sahel Sahel  467
Syria crisis Syria 423
South Sudan South Sudan 239
Yemen Yemen 224
Iraq Iraq 207
Democratic Republic of Congo DR Congo 205
Afghanistan Afghanistan 188
Somalia Somalia 180
Central African Republic CAR 133
Sudan Sudan 130
State of Palestine Palestine 112
Ethiopia Ethiopia 104

Channels for Sida's humanitarian aid 2016

label shortlabel value valuetype highlight
UN agencies, i.e. UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF, OCHA, UNRWA and FAO UN agencies 51 %  
Civil society organisations, i.e. the Norwegian Refugee Council, Médecins sans Frontières and Save the Children Fund NGO:s 25 %  
The Red Cross organizations Red Cross 20  
Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) MSB 4


Page owner: Communication Unit

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