Australia’s humanitarian support Part III: Refugees and displaced people

On World Humanitarian Day, we pause to consider the millions of civilians around the world whose lives have been caught up in conflict or disasters.  We also pay tribute to the brave humanitarian workers who have risked or lost their lives providing assistance and protection to those in need.

Australia is playing a critical role in helping partners prepare for, respond to and recover from disaster, conflict and instability globally. We are committed to responding to humanitarian crises around the world, including in the Asia-Pacific, one of the world’s most disaster prone regions.

This photo essay has three parts. The first highlights everyday Australians, doing extraordinary things to help those in need around the world. The second focuses on local people, who are often the best placed to help their own communities in times of crises.  The third looks at Australia’s assistance to help some of the more than 68 million people across the world now displaced due to instability and conflict.

All of these images highlight Australia’s efforts to work with and restore hope to the world’s most vulnerable.


Over 68 million people are now displaced due to instability and conflict, more than at any time since World War II. Australia’s assistance is focused on supporting these communities as close to home as possible. It includes providing life-saving humanitarian assistance and ensuring people are treated with dignity through access to education and protection. These images highlight Australia’s support to communities who have often lost their homes and livelihoods, they also highlight our efforts to help restore hope to the most vulnerable.

Credit: Dalia Khamissy/Plan International Australia, May 2016.


The ongoing conflict in Syria is perhaps the largest humanitarian, peace and security crisis facing the world today. An estimated 13.5 million people in Syria need some form of humanitarian assistance. An additional 4.8 million Syrians now living in neighbouring countries are registered as refugees. Experiencing conflict and rapid displacement can have a lasting impact on children. Psychosocial support to assist those experiencing trauma is essential. Since 2016, Australia has supported Plan International Australia to provide vital gender-based violence and protection programs in Lebanon – reaching women, men, girls and boys in refugee camps and host communities. Here Syrian refugee boys have been asked to draw their ‘safe place’ – which for many children is their classroom.


The Australia Assists program is deploying highly trained technical specialists around the world to help countries prepare for and recover from disaster, conflict and instability. In Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp, Australian deployees are helping to provide essential services, including clean water, power, protection and livelihood support to around 80,000 Syrian refugees, particularly vulnerable women and children. In this video, deployees talk about their experiences and the impact of their roles. UN Representatives provide another perspective, including outlining the valuable contribution made by Australian technical specialists.

Credit: Nesma Al Nsour/Oxfam, November 2017.


Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp is home to 80,000 Syrian refugees. In addition to basic services including shelter, water and health, livelihood activities empower refugee communities and assist with restoring community cohesion, and social and economic structures. Here Syrian refugee women living in Za’atari refugee camp harvest cabbage, cauliflower and cucumber. Australia supports Oxfam Australia’s agricultural training program for women, as well as the construction of greenhouses in the refugee camp. In addition to teaching agricultural skills, and growing vegetables for sale, the program helps facilitate increased social interaction.

Credit: Richard Wainwright/Caritas Australia, March 2017.


The Syrian conflict is entering its eighth year. More than 13 million Syrians require humanitarian assistance, 5.5 million people have fled the country, and almost three million children have been forced to leave their schools. Everyone dreams of a better education for their children, and conflict and displacement can end these dreams. Not so for Sana*, a Syrian refugee living with her family in Jordan. Sana struggled to overcome the trauma of growing up in a conflict zone and was not doing well in school. Now she is an academic high achiever who is flourishing, thanks to the stable school environment provided by Caritas Australia with the support of the Australian Government.

*Name changed to protect identity.

Credit: Maria de la Guardia/Save the Children, September 2017.


Violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State has driven over 900,000 people across the border into Bangladesh. Most arrive with few or no possessions and rely on humanitarian aid to survive. Hanida* lives in a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, in South-Eastern Bangladesh, with her husband and their seven children. Through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership, Australia has supported Save the Children Australia to provide food, basic cooking utensils, and child friendly spaces to over 150,000 refugees like Hanida.

*Name changed to protect identity.

Credit: GMB Akash/Save the Children, October 2017.


More than 1.3 million people are in need of assistance in Cox’s Bazar, in South-Eastern Bangladesh, including over 900,000 people displaced by violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Access to safe water is a critical requirement for survival. Here 10-year-old Rohingya girl Majuma* collects fresh water from a well constructed in a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. Majuma fled Myanmar with her family when their village was attacked, and now lives in one of the world’s largest refugee camps. Australian assistance through Save the Children Australia, Oxfam Australia and CARE Australia is delivering life-saving water, food, shelter, protection and household supplies to those displaced by the violence.

*Name changed to protect identity.

Credit: Saikat Mojumder/World Food Programme.


Over 1.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. With support from Australia, the World Food Programme provides life-saving food to more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees every month, ensuring the needs of those most vulnerable are met. This includes hot meals through community kitchens, food distributions, and nutritious porridge for pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers and children under five.

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