Cooperation with humanitarian relief organisations


Who can receive assistance abroad within the framework of humanitarian aid? What are the Federal Foreign Office’s funding principles?

The Federal Foreign Office works closely with specialised non‑governmental organisations as well as the humanitarian institutions of the United Nations to implement aid projects. Projects selected to receive support are chosen on the basis of the policy paper on funding for Federal Government humanitarian aid projects abroad.

Food being distributed at the Libyan‑Tunisian border
Food being distributed at the Libyan‑Tunisian border © dpa/picture-alliance

What projects can be funded?

Humanitarian assistance measures, such as the construction of emergency shelters or medical care, require very specialised skills. For this reason the Federal Foreign Office cooperates with aid organisations with the relevant capabilities on implementing specific projects. Non‑governmental organisations are often especially important partners in this area due to their high level of specialisation, their expertise and the flexibility of their operations. International organisations such as the International Red Cross Movement are also indispensable for the implementation of humanitarian assistance. Recipients of support must comply with the goals and principles of the Federal Foreign Office Strategy for Humanitarian Aid Abroad.

The logo of Germany’s humanitarian assistance
The logo of Germany’s humanitarian assistance © Federal Government

What projects are not funded?

Aid measures pertaining to recovery and rehabilitation, as distinct from humanitarian aid, are classified as development cooperation and fall within the remit of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. General poverty reduction measures also fall under development cooperation and are thus outside the remit of the Federal Foreign Office.

Other relief measures not covered by the Federal Foreign Office are those undertaken within Germany, in individual humanitarian cases (e.g. medical treatment) or to coordinate or transport items donated through civil‑society initiatives.

Neither can we finance institutions as such, Federal Foreign Office funding being exclusively reserved for projects and specific measures.

Funding principles

The key reference document for allocating funds to relief organisations is always the most recent approved draft of the Federal Foreign Office’s policy paper on funding for Federal Government humanitarian aid projects abroad. 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.

Non‑governmental organisations 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. Our usual policy is to provide deficit funding while the humanitarian relief organisations themselves bear responsibility for the projects. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, the Federal Foreign Office only provides funds for those items of expenditure which the agencies’ own resources do not cover.

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.

Relief organisations 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.

Find out more

Background information: Humanitarian Aid Coordinating Committee

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