Emergencies, humanitarian aid and mine action
Australia helps reduce the adverse impacts of conflict, natural and other disasters on vulnerable populations.
Developing countries are highly vulnerable to a range of natural hazards, including tropical cyclones, floods, landslides, droughts, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis.
The Australian Government stands ready to help countries in times of natural disasters. Assistance may take the form of relief supplies, medical teams, law and order personnel, transport and communication.
Australia also makes contributions to development and humanitarian agencies, such as Australian Red Cross, which have extensive experience in relief operations. For example, Australia provided $60 million to Australian and international organisations for emergency relief in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, which affected parts of Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, the Maldives and East Africa.
The long-term effects of disasters and crises undermine growth prospects and hard-won development gains. Where capacity to deliver services is low or insecurity prevails, vulnerability to hazards and conflict increases and poverty is exacerbated.
Humanitarian action in itself cannot reduce poverty, nor can it prevent or reduce conflict. The Humanitarian Action Policy deals with the symptoms of conflict and complements the Peace, Conflict and Development Policy that specifically addresses conflict prevention, conflict management and reduction, peace-building and post-conflict recovery.
Through the measures outlined in this policy, humanitarian action can help counteract social instability, reduce vulnerabilities and strengthen local capacities.
To ensure effective responses to conflict and natural disasters, Australia works in cooperation with international and domestic partners to improve disaster preparedness.
Australia is also committed to reducing the risk of natural disasters before they occur.
Australia provides approximately 150,000 tonnes of food aid every year—about $65 million—to people in crisis in countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Chad. At least half of this tonnage comes from Australian farmers and suppliers.
Australia provides funding to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other key humanitarian agencies to provide protection and assistance to refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs). Australia also supports programs that promote finding durable solutions to refugee and IDP crises and the reintegration of returnees, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
In many cases long term relief is required after an emergency. The Australian Government therefore selectively supports rehabilitation and reconstruction activities in areas that have been struck by disaster or conflict. To reduce the likelihood of a similar disaster happening again, recovery and reconstruction efforts are underpinned by the ‘build back better’ principle. This means taking steps to ensure that disaster affected communities will be more resilient to future natural hazard events.
Landmines and other explosive remnants of war pose serious obstacles to sustainable development in many of the world's poorest countries. They can be found anywhere and often deprive affected populations of basic needs such as access to water and health facilities, use of fertile agricultural land, and communication. Australia is a significant contributor to international mine action, with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region. The Australian aid program provides support to mine clearance, mine risk education, victim assistance and advocacy activities, in collaboration with a range of international, regional and local actors.
Last reviewed: 18 December, 2009
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