Dutch humanitarian policy

The Netherlands wants people in need to receive the help they require to survive and rebuild their lives as fast as possible.

Emergency situations

More and more people are falling victim to humanitarian emergencies, for example because they live in war zones or have been hit by a natural disaster like an earthquake or a flood. Sometimes they even have to flee their homes. These people can no longer support themselves and need immediate aid, including food, clean drinking water, shelter and medical care.

Emergency aid

In most cases the Netherlands does not provide direct assistance. Instead, money is donated to professional aid organisations like the United Nations (UN), the International Red Cross and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). These aid organisations use the money for immediate, lifesaving operations in disaster areas. Often, they have been working in those areas for some time. This experience allows them to act fast and provide the right aid. A lot of emergency aid is coordinated by the UN, so that the aid matches local needs. This also stops aid organisations getting in each other’s way.

The principles of emergency aid

The Netherlands follows four principles for providing humanitarian aid: humanity, neutrality, independence and impartiality. By following these principles, the aid is given to the people who need it most. It also means that anyone in need can receive aid, regardless of their ethnicity, religion or political beliefs.

Aims of emergency aid

The Netherlands wants people in need to get the aid they require as fast as possible. Providing immediate emergency aid is therefore an important aim of Dutch humanitarian policy. Other aims are to:

  • improve hosting capacities in the region, so that they can return home as soon as possible;
  • improve the aid system using good ideas or new inventions, so that more people can be helped with the same amount of money;
  • prepare people more effectively for natural disasters, to reduce the impact.

Ministry responsible