Humanitarian Action

Luxembourg's Humanitarian Action

International solidarity and humanitarian principles - humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence - are at the heart of Luxembourg’s Humanitarian Action commitment. They are the driving force behind the country's ambition to be an actor for positive change in the face of increasing humanitarian needs and vulnerabilities worldwide. Our goal is to further leverage Luxembourg's resources and expertise to help meet the unprecedented scale of humanitarian needs around the world.

Our flagship projects

Luxembourg - Chair of the OCHA Donor Support Group 2023-2024

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is mandated to coordinate the overall humanitarian response, mobilise resources and manage and analyse humanitarian data. OCHA's mandate derives from General Assembly (GA) resolution 46/182 of December 1991.

The OCHA Donor Support Group (ODSG) currently consists of 30 members and is chaired by one of its members on an annual rotating basis. Currently, the group is chaired by Luxembourg for the period July 2023 to June 2024, having taken over from Saudi Arabia in July 2023. The ODSG acts as a sounding board and source of advice for OCHA, with its members committing to provide political, financial and technical support for the implementation of coordination activities mandated by OCHA. 

As chair of the ODSG, Luxembourg aims to support OCHA's efforts to make the humanitarian system more people-centered and context-specific, as well as more efficient and less bureaucratic. Luxembourg’s chairpersonship will also focus on OCHA's role in the humanitarian system's response to internally displaced people, as well as on emerging risks and challenges related to the use of data in humanitarian aid. 

Luxembourg's chairpersonship of the ODSG will consist of four meetings over the course of the year, including two expert-level meetings in Geneva, a high-level meeting in New York and a high-level meeting in Luxembourg in June 2024. Luxembourg will also organise an Ambassadors' lunch in Geneva and a field visit to a country where OCHA is involved in coordinating the humanitarian response.

WFP Humanitarian Innovation Accelerator

The Humanitarian Innovation Accelerator (HIA) is an international call for projects that aims to support innovative solutions to strengthen the capacity of humanitarian actors to address the most complex challenges in difficult contexts. The call is aimed at innovative entrepreneurs anywhere in the world who are making a positive and sustainable impact on the humanitarian aid sector, particularly in the areas of emergency management, access to services, data management and communication.

The desired solutions have the potential to be scaled up in different crisis contexts as well as in different geographical areas. The HIA is particularly interested in solutions from the sectors of artificial intelligence and data science, space and satellite technology, healthtech as well as suppy chain and logistics. Selected projects will have access to funding, mentoring and networking with the Luxembourg economic and humanitarian ecosystem.

The HIA is an initiative of the Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, in collaboration with the World Food Programme and the Austrian Development Agency. The aim is to make a lasting and real difference in the humanitarian sector and to meet the growing needs of 339 million people in more than 68 countries facing a humanitarian assistance situation in 2023.

ICRC Delegation for Cyberspace, based in Luxembourg
©MAEE Signature ICRC Cyber Delegation
Signature ICRC Cyber Delegation
©MAEE Signature "Bridge Agreement"
Signature "Bridge Agreement"

Luxembourg is one of the very first countries to explore the geopolitical dimensions of being a “cyber host state” and is a strong advocate and supporter for and of technological innovation. Moreover, Luxembourg aims to help strengthen protection and the «do no harm» principle in a digital environment. As humanitarian organisations become more active in and reliant on new technologies, they evolve from being simple bystanders to being fully-fledged stakeholders in cyberspace, vulnerable to adverse cyber operations that could affect their capacity to protect and assist people affected by armed conflict or other situations of violence. In fulfilling its humanitarian mandate, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is increasingly engaged in the provision of digital services to persons affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence globally.

On 1 June 2022, Luxembourg and the ICRC signed an agreement to establish the first ICRC Delegation for Cyberspace, based in Luxembourg. This innovative initiative aims to provide a safe environment for the ICRC to research, develop and test digital solutions. The Delegation will also serve as a protected gateway to cyberspace to prepare the ground for the support, protection and deployment of digital services to beneficiaries on a global scale. The Delegation provides a first step leading to a more global coverage of these topics within the ICRC. 

IFRC-Shelter Research Unit
IFRC Shelter Unit
IFRC Shelter Unit

Established by an initiative of the Benelux Red Cross Societies in cooperation with the IFRC Shelter and Settlements Department in Geneva, the IFRC-Shelter Research Unit (SRU) is hosted by the Luxembourg Red Cross and funded by Luxembourg’s Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs. On 31 December 2020, the SRU became a department of the International Aid of the Luxembourg Red Cross asbl. Its offices are located in Luxembourg and in Dakar, Senegal.

The SRU is a purpose-built research centre working on improving shelter expertise, both through innovative use of materials and integration of traditional architectural concepts. It develops context based shelter solutions and makes the field response more efficient from both a financial and a logistical perspective. In its tailored shelter building, the SRU aims to use locally procured materials, provide better thermal comfort and more durable solutions. The SRU also works on knowledge sharing by documenting shelters and settlements and tests its solutions with a particular focus on cultural acceptance, safe construction techniques and reduced environmental impact.

The solutions developed by the SRU have been used worldwide, for example the Sahel model used in the sub-Saharan region of Africa or the winterised tents used by the Turkish Red Crescent to host Syrian refugees. Current reflections are mainly focused on Africa. One reflection is the development of a shelter model for the Sahel region which can make the link between emergency operations and a more durable use solutions (Nexus approach). Another current reflection concerns the development of a more efficient and eco-friendly tarpaulin model.

UNHCR’s Innovation Service
©UNHCR UNHCR innovation service
UNHCR innovation service

The Innovation Service is committed to creating an enabling environment for innovation to flourish at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. UNHCR’s protection mandate is more vital than ever – and the Innovation Service provides critical support to test, iterate, and upscale new initiatives that will enable the agency to better deliver that mandate now and into the future. 

Since 2019, Luxembourg’s Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs has supported the Innovation Service. Initially focusing on its Connectivity for Refugees workstream, support has expanded over time to broader concepts of Digital Innovation furthering the digital inclusion of forcibly displaced communities so they can be part of a connected society, and have access to technology that enables them to build better futures for themselves, their families and the world.

The Digital Innovation programme includes such diverse projects as an initiative to co-create digital literacy trainings with refugees in Indonesia, a project designing and developing a community-led connectivity network for an informal settlement of displaced Indigenous families in Colombia, new ways of implementing digital financial solutions in Zambia, and an initiative developing new methods of engaging with communities through their preferred digital channels in ways that manage their data responsibly. Specifically, the WhatsApp solution developed in partnership with covers over 13 countries with over 75,000 users. To date, over 40 digital innovation projects have been supported that aim to ensure displaced communities benefit from enhanced digital, social, and economic inclusion.

In 2022, the Innovation Service launched new Innovation Funds beyond the digital focus, covering Data, Environment, and Refugee-led Innovation. Luxembourg is not only maintaining its support for the Service’s digital endeavours, but also expanding support to the newly established Innovation programmes and associated projects.
©MAEE antenna deployment antenna deployment

Developed after the Haiti earthquake in 2010, provides connectivity services for humanitarian actors to enable the rapid and organised aid that is so crucial for saving lives after a disaster. It is a mobile, satellite-based telecommunications platform created to re-establish communication (internet, phone) after a disaster, to support the coordination efforts of humanitarian organisations in the field and to contribute to saving lives during humanitarian emergencies. Communication services can also be provided in the context of chronic crises, especially in very remote areas.

The system is a public-private partnership between the Luxembourg Government and three Luxembourg companies (SES Networks, HITEC Luxembourg and Luxembourg Air Ambulance) and was created in close collaboration with the World Food Programme, the global lead agency of the emergency telecommunications cluster, as a free global public good to the humanitarian community. The same services are also offered to the population and the governments of the affected countries.

Current missions include deployments to Syria, Tonga, Chad, Venezuela and Ukraine.

  1. Humanitarian Innovation Accelerator visual

    Humanitarian Innovation Accelerator visual

  2. ©MAEE

    delivery of emergency supplies to Türkiye

    delivery of emergency supplies to Türkiye

  3. ©MAEE antenna deployment antenna deployment

  4. container in front of DB Schenker container in front of DB Schenker

  5. ©MAEE

    Signature ICRC Cyber Delegation

    Signature ICRC Cyber Delegation

    left-to-right: Peter Maurer, President of the ICRC; Franz Fayot, Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs
  6. IFRC Shelter Unit

    IFRC Shelter Unit

  7. ©UNHCR

    UNHCR innovation service

    UNHCR innovation service

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