From droughts, floods, and earthquakes to food shortages, wars, disease outbreaks, and war, events that need global humanitarian relief are on the rise. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that the number of people needing life-saving emergency relief has increased threefold since 2019.
While the most severe needs emerge from events in developing nations, no part of the world is immune, including the United States. For many, witnessing news of these catastrophes represents a call to action to provide money or other types of support to humanitarian relief organizations to help them assist people near and far with food, shelter, medical treatment, and other necessities. Here’s a short list of organizations that answer the call for help and how you can contribute.
The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine displaced millions from their homes in 2022, and climate change continues to turn many Central Americans into nomads. One agency that provides help in these crises is Refugees International, a privately funded organization that provides life-saving assistance, promotes human rights, and seeks solutions to crises where people are forced from their homes.
Refugees International estimates that as many as 100 million people are on the move each year due to violent conflicts, persecution, and other causes. Authorities with Refugees International travel to trouble spots, investigate crises, and focus on seeking permanent change.
International Committee of the Red Cross
One of the most familiar names in crisis response, both internationally and in the United States, is the Red Cross. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) aims to provide support for victims of large-scale violence across the world.
ICRC’s mission is to protect victims’ lives and dignity while also striving to prevent suffering, focusing on civilians, children, detainees, migrants, asylum seekers, missing people, people with disabilities, and women. Committee members are involved in everything, from addressing sexual violence and building respect for the law to health, reuniting families, and ensuring access to water.
United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund
Established in 2005, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) serves as the coordinating agency for the United Nations in raising money and distributing humanitarian aid to countries overwhelmed by natural or man-made emergencies, such as famine or war. CERF focuses on the response efforts it considers “underfunded,” with the goal of “jump-starting” relief.
Donations come primarily from member states in the United Nations, international relief organizations, and individuals. In September 2022, CERF indicated that humanitarian needs were reaching “unprecedented levels,” requiring more than $700 million to be distributed in 2022.
Funded requests included emergency responses to earthquakes, droughts, floods, disease outbreaks, refugee crises, violence, and other events. CERF uses the money to sustain and stabilize the emergency response until the affected country is no longer overwhelmed.
Action Against Hunger
Food insecurity has been a longstanding global problem and is now being discussed more openly in many communities within the United States. Action Against Hunger estimates that as many as two million children die yearly from malnutrition. It also says that nearly one billion people go to bed hungry every night.
Action Against Hunger aims to marshal resources to fight hunger at numerous levels, focusing on children. Agency programs provide services to save the lives of malnourished children and prevent malnutrition before it develops by increasing access to water, sanitation, and hygiene. The agency works in 45 nations and reaches 26 million people annually. Visit Action Against Hunger to learn more or donate.
Catholic Charities USA
Over the past five years, attention has focused on the immigration crisis at the border between the United States and Mexico, with many people crossing into this country illegally. Catholic Charities USA is on the front lines of the response to help keep those individuals safe and ensure they’re treated fairly and with dignity.
Catholic Charities supports immigrants in several ways. In addition to being a point of outreach to the immigrant community, Catholic Charities provides legal representation and support in navigating the United States immigration system and citizenship education. It also aims to aid unaccompanied minors who enter the United States without their families and attempts to bring families back together.
Programs offered by Catholic Charities seek to address food and nutrition challenges in the United States and disaster relief. To learn more or donate, visit the Catholic Charities website.
Doctors Without Borders
Humanitarian needs extend beyond food and shelter to include general health care. Poorer nations often don’t have the necessary supplies or equipment to provide proper treatment, especially in the aftermath of a large-scale disaster or conflict. Doctors Without Borders provides emergency and ongoing medical care to people in more than 70 countries, regardless of their ability to pay.
Doctors, nurses, and other staff from Doctors Without Borders are often among the first responders in the wake of outbreaks of disease, natural disasters, or military conflict. The agency has ongoing responses to humanitarian events in Haiti, Congo, and Rohingya and supported nations worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency employs more than 45,000 staff members across the world. To learn more or contribute, visit the Doctors Without Borders website.
Another organization that focuses on healthcare is Project HOPE, which recognizes that the impact of the global shortage of healthcare workers means that its services in humanitarian relief are necessary. Project HOPE works with local healthcare providers to provide support and aid for disasters and health crises, infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, maternal and child health, and health policies in more than 25 countries.
Programs range from providing direct healthcare services to providing hospitals with equipment and training and improving access to healthcare. The agency also focuses on refugees and migrants to help host countries build their capabilities to provide proper care. To learn more or to donate, visit the Project HOPE website.
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Photo Credit: Refugees by Todd Huffman is licensed with CC BY 2.0