Emergency Relief

During refugee crises, UNHCR Canada provides emergency aid and disaster relief. 

Photo: © UNHCR/Ritzau Scanpix

Rapid Response Emergency Aid and Disaster Relief 

When emergency aid is required, we send disaster relief supplies and deploy our highly trained staff anywhere in the world, at any given time. Often, our teams are managing multiple emergencies at the same time. Because of the commitment of dedicated donors, we can deploy within 72 hours of a large-scale emergency and jump-start relief and protection assistance for as many as 600,000 newly displaced people. 

UNHCR staff are trained to work under intense pressure and in incredibly challenging conditions. Together with our partners, we ensure refugees have what they need to survive—shelter, medical care, food, water and special protection and care for vulnerable children and women, including prevention and response to sexual violence.

269 trained staff from emergency standby rosters were deployed to emergencies in 2019  

Ensuring Refugee Survival Needs Are Promptly Met

With little notice and no idea if or when they’ll be able to return home, families flee with few to no belongings. They often find refuge in harsh and unforgiving conditions. Their needs are immense, but with your help, we can provide families with essential life-saving support, whether they are uprooted for weeks, months or years. 

We provide refugees with shelter. This can mean setting up tented camps for tens of thousands of people, supplying materials for housing or providing cash assistance to refugees living in apartments in urban settings. We also supply the basics—like blankets to keep refugees warm, sleeping mats to keep them dry and other supplies like clothing, soap, kitchen sets, jerry cans, heaters, solar lamps and mosquito nets. 

Just under 11 million core aid items delivered to displaced people in 2019 for emergencies and on-going operations

Providing Proper Health and Nutrition

Diseases from unclean water and poor sanitation can spread quickly in the congested conditions where many refugees live. When people don’t have proper nutrition, especially children, they succumb even more quickly to preventable and treatable diseases. That’s why UNHCR gives priority to the swift launch of programs that keep children, women and men healthy in refugee settings. 

We work closely with our partners—supporting their vital work to supply clean water and nutritious food, to set up sanitation programs and to ensure refugees have access to emergency and basic health care services. For example, we work with partners to carry out large-scale vaccination campaigns to protect refugees from diseases like polio and measles. 

98% of monitored refugee sites met the international standard for infant mortality

Offering a Safety Net

Crises, whether man-made or natural, cause immense suffering and uncertainty, not only because victims lose loved ones, homes and livelihoods, but because their safety net also disappears. Governments normally guarantee the security and human rights of their citizens, but they often cannot do so; and sometimes they become violators. The tragic result is that displaced civilians are extremely vulnerable to targeted violence, sexual assault, exploitation, persecution and other human rights abuses. 

Protecting refugees and displaced persons is UNHCR’s core mandate. Both before and after emergencies, we work to ensure their rights are respected and that refugees are not forced to return to countries where they are in danger. We offer legal and protection assistance to minimize threats of violence, including sexual assault—a risk even in countries of asylum. We also work with our partners to keep refugees safe, while providing access to essential services and opportunities to earn an income. 

79.5 million people forcibly displaced worldwide

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