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What Does a Humanitarian Do?

Humanitarians save lives. That’s the single most important thing that a humanitarian (or any person) can do. But what does that mean? How do humanitarians save lives? Let’s take a look at the types of humanitarian jobs out there and what humanitarians in these positions do.

The ultimate humanitarian traveling list

Disaster relief

When there is a natural or human-made disaster, humanitarians are a vital part of the response team. Agencies from around the world deploy teams to help save as many lives as possible. This can happen after an earthquake, a hurricane, a typhoon, a volcanic eruption, a tsunami, and so forth.

After disasters, humanitarians may work in search and rescue – finding and retrieving victims. They will also need to provide temporary shelter in case the area suffered infrastructure destruction. Further, supplies might be limited right after a disaster. So, humanitarians distribute food, water, and other essentials.

Please visit our page about Disaster Response Travel

Conflict relief

Unfortunately, the world continues to experience conflict in many countries. This means that many civilians fall victims of violence and armed conflict. Humanitarians represent the neutral party that can step in and help. Often, humanitarians are the only ones with access to the affected populations, as they do not have an affiliation with the parties in conflict.

In these settings, aid workers may provide similar services to those during disaster relief. They will also often offer medical help, mainly if there are civilians who are wounded. Further, they may provide psychosocial support due to the trauma resulting from the conflict setting. Organizations, such as the ICRC also offer reunification services to families and protection for prisoners of war.

Working with refugees

Today, there are millions of refugees around the world. Most have fled life-threatening violent conflicts. Considering their situation, refugees often need support, such as shelter, food, and legal advice.

Humanitarian organizations set up refugee camps for those who are displaced and cannot yet find a home in a new country. Within the camps, aid workers provide medical, education, and other social services. They also help with the refugee integration process, such as paperwork, job search, and legal status.

Here’s a list of articles where you can read everything you need to know about helping refugees.

Medical emergencies

Global health is volatile and often requires a rapid response. Outbreaks such as Ebola, Zika, and others require trained professionals who can quickly address these significant health concerns. Organizations, such as Doctors Without Borders, work to provide healthcare services to those most in need.

Not only do they address rapid-onset disease outbreaks, but they may also provide long-term support. This happens in areas where the public healthcare system is unable to provide for everyone. As such, humanitarians operate mobile or remote clinics to ensure better access to healthcare for everyone.


While it’s essential to be the change, it’s also crucial to make change happen on a global scale. For this, we need public agencies, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector to be on board. To achieve large-scale change, humanitarians engage in advocacy.

For example, aid workers may promote the human rights of refugees or victims of conflict. They also advocate for greener agendas and putting an end to climate change. This is one of the vital areas of humanitarian work, which doesn’t usually happen in the field.

Positions it headquarters

Just like any organization operating globally, humanitarian agencies need management and administration. For this, they set up headquarters, which help to manage what goes on in the field. Professionals in office positions range to cover all sorts of posts, including communications, finance, administration, research, fundraising, IT, and so on.

These are key professionals in the humanitarian sector. They ensure better coordination, efficient spending, the safety of humanitarian workers, proper deployment, and much more.

Here’s a list of the top 100 Global NGO’s

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