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About Humanitarian Assistance

Every day, people’s lives are affected by different natural disasters or crises. People can be at risk of losing their land, homes and access to basic services such as clean water, shelter and food.

During these humanitarian situations, the primary responsibility for providing assistance is with the government of the affected country. Usually, the affected communities themselves and their governments provide a significant first response to emergencies.

When the needs of the affected communities exceed the capacity of their government to respond, Canada and governments around the world provide assistance through an established international humanitarian response system. This is made up of the United Nations, the Red Cross Movement, and other experienced non-governmental humanitarian organizations.

How does Canada respond to humanitarian crises?

Canada provides assistance to people in crisis on the basis of what their most urgent needs are – needs like safe drinking water, sanitation services, emergency health care, food, and temporary shelters.

Typically, this means providing financial support to experienced humanitarian partners who are responding to the crisis. This can include United Nations agencies, the Red Cross Movement, or non-governmental organizations. This assistance is provided in line with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.

Additional support

As a last resort, where there is a clear need for additional support beyond what experienced humanitarian partners can provide, Canada may:

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