What is humanitarian aid?

Humanitarian aid

What is humanitarian aid?

The Idai cyclone is likely to become one of the worst disasters climate of the southern hemisphere , according to experts of the United Nations Organization (UN).

According to official information, this natural disaster has caused around 700 fatalities in the three southern African countries through which it has passed: Mozambique , Malawi and Zimbabwe. In addition, the UN forecasts that the cyclone will affect some 2.8 million people. This means that many buildings and services in the affected countries have been destroyed: hospitals, markets, warehouses and houses have been buried by water. Faced with a situation like this that affects hundreds of thousands of people, it is important to have international help to reduce the impact of this natural disaster.

Help victims

The so-called “humanitarian and emergency aid ” is distributed in the event of armed conflict or when a major natural disaster has occurred.

The objective of this aid is to save lives, alleviate suffering and try to maintain the dignity of the victims, according to the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid approved in 2007.

Humanitarian aid shipments mainly include medicines, tents and food, among other resources. It is about meeting the basic needs of the population during a difficult situation.

Many professionals also travel to the field to help. In emergency situations, firefighters and trained personnel are needed to rescue victims, doctors to treat and cure the injured, engineers to rebuild infrastructure or even to help plan recovery after a disaster.

Entities and governments have sent humanitarian aid to the affected areas. Spain, for example, has sent aid worth € 50,000 through the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation.

The money will be used to provide a shelter for those affected, take care of their health , provide water and food and build sanitation systems to maintain hygiene. This last point is important to prevent diseases among those affected.

Today millions of people depend on humanitarian aid to survive. These are people affected by natural disasters, floods or drought, but above all by armed conflicts.

The origin of humanitarian aid

Humanitarian aid has evolved throughout history. One of the first organized humanitarian aid initiatives took place in the 19th century in Europe.

In 1859, during the battle of Solferino (Italy), the Swiss businessman Henri Dunant observed how the wounded soldiers were left to their fate. Although he had no medical knowledge, he helped the wounded regardless of which side they were fighting on.

Dunant thought that it was necessary to create treaties to help and protect soldiers wounded during the war , in addition to creating a neutral and impartial group of volunteers to help nurses during the conflict.

In 1863 he created a committee to analyze how he could start this initiative to distribute humanitarian aid: it was the beginning of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Dunant’s committee promoted the First Geneva Convention (1864), the first international treaty to define a series of laws to protect victims of armed conflict , regardless of their side. This treaty has been updated and today regulates international humanitarian law.