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Collaborating with relief organizations

The Federal Foreign Office works closely with philanthropic and humanitarian non‑governmental organizations as well as the humanitarian institutions of the United Nations to implement aid projects.

The aim behind humanitarian aid is to help according to need when people are suffering great hardship or are at risk of great hardship due to a crisis, conflict, natural disaster or other cause.

Ethical responsibility and international solidarity

The aim is to enable them to live in dignity and security and to alleviate the suffering of those who are in dire need that is beyond their power to alleviate. Humanitarian aid is intended to meet people’s basis needs and is the expression of a sense of ethical responsibility and international solidarity. Accordingly, Germany’s humanitarian aid is committed to the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. Another important factor is the principle of subsidiarity, which means that the German Government only provides humanitarian aid where the government of a country hit by disaster is unwilling or unable to do so itself.

Aid measures pertaining to recovery and rehabilitation, as distinct from humanitarian aid, are an instrument of development cooperation and fall within the remit of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Other relief measures not covered by the Federal Foreign Office are those undertaken within Germany and in individual humanitarian cases (e.g. medical treatment).

The Logo of Germany's humanitarian assistance

The Logo of Germany's humanitarian assistance
© Bundesregierung

Allocation of resources according to funding policy

The key reference document for allocating funds to relief organizations is always the most recent approved draft of the Federal Foreign Office’s policy paper on funding for humanitarian aid projects. The Funding Policy contains detailed information about what projects can receive Federal Foreign Office funding as well as the type and scope of those allocations and the procedure to be followed.

Relief organizations should only apply for funding for their humanitarian relief measures once the Federal Foreign Office’s Humanitarian Aid Division has agreed by telephone that the project being planned is fundamentally eligible for Foreign Office aid funding.

Non-governmental organizations which apply are expected to have had experience in humanitarian aid and in dealing with donations or public funds. They must also be non-profit-making and accept the Federal Government’s arrangements for funding and accounting. We cannot finance institutions as such, Federal Foreign Office funding being exclusively reserved for projects and specific measures. Our usual policy is to provide deficit funding while the humanitarian relief organizations themselves bear responsibility for the projects. The Federal Foreign Office only provides funds for those items of expenditure which the agencies’ own resources do not cover (principle of subsidiarity).

The job of humanitarian aid is to react quickly and flexibly to crisis situations. At the same time, rapid assistance in acute crisis goes hand in hand with transitional aid, enhanced crisis response capabilities and disaster reduction measures. The Federal Foreign Office cannot fund any measures which fall into the category of development policy. Measures to combat poverty more generally or develop structures are classed as development assistance and can receive funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The legal basis for the allocation of funding is the Federal Budget Code. The Code cannot be used to establish a legal claim to funding.


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