Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

OCHADisplaced people in Um Baru, North Darfur sheltering near UNAMID team site. January 2015

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is the part of the United Nations Secretariat responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent, principled and timely response to emergencies and natural disasters. OCHA works with governments, as well as Inter-Agency Standing Committee members, including key operational actors from the United Nations, NGOs, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, among others.

OCHA, previously known as the Department for Humanitarian Affairs, was established in 1998 following UN General Assembly Resolution 46/182 (adopted in December 1991).

OCHA’s focus is on delivering two mutually reinforcing goals: improving humanitarian action in the world’s ongoing crises and increasing the effectiveness of response efforts by engaging with new partners and promoting new technologies and ideas.  

Besides its headquarters in New York and Geneva, OCHA has over 30 offices around the world. OCHA's mission is to: 

1.    Mobilize and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors in order to alleviate human suffering in disasters and emergencies.
2.    Advocate the rights of people in need.
3.    Promote preparedness and prevention.
4.    Facilitate sustainable solutions.

OCHA in Sudan

The humanitarian operation in Sudan is one of the largest in the world. Humanitarian needs in Sudan are diverse and complex, and result mainly from new and protracted displacement, refugees fleeing neighboring countries, food insecurity, malnutrition and disease outbreaks. The majority of humanitarian needs among IDPs and refugees thus far have been triggered by conflict. Humanitarian needs are also driven by poverty, chronic underdevelopment, and climatic factors. OCHA works with the Government of Sudan including the Humanitarian Aid Commission and also with partners including the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) and IASC Sectors to identify and address humanitarian needs. OCHA provides support to the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC), the Darfur Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator (DHC) and the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) in Sudan.

In order to address the diverse humanitarian needs in Sudan, OCHA maintains a flexible and adaptive operational structure. In addition to a country office in Khartoum, OCHA maintains eight sub-offices in the five Darfur states, Abyei, Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. Staff in these sub-offices provide local coordination support to humanitarian organisations, liaise with the local government and, where applicable, with peacekeeping missions.

OCHA aims to foster a conducive operating environment that facilitates the assessment of humanitarian needs and the effective delivery of material and protection assistance. Crucially, OCHA promotes compliance with humanitarian principles in the humanitarian response. This is an essential element of effective humanitarian coordination and is central to establishing and maintaining access to affected populations, particularly in conflict-affected areas of Sudan.

The Sudan Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) and the Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) are the key planning and resource mobilization tools for the humanitarian community. The 2017 HNO identified 4.8 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Sudan. The 2016 HRP appealed for US$970 million to implement life-saving activities targeting 4.6 million people in need across the country. As of end 2016, $555 million had been received, 57 per cent of the total requested. The 2017 HRP is under finalization.

OCHA also manages the Sudan Humanitarian Fund (previously known as the Common Humanitarian Fund). Under the direction of the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC), the SHF aims to support the timely allocation and disbursement of donor resources to the most critical humanitarian needs as defined by the HRP or any agreed upon strategy by the HC. The SHF provides early and predictable funding to international and national non–governmental organizations and UN agencies to address critical humanitarian needs in Sudan. The SHF, established in 2006, has to date received more than US$1 billion from joint donor resources to meet critical needs in Sudan identified by the humanitarian community.