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United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) is part of the UN headquarters in New York and has the task to streamline and strengthen the UN systems assistance in the aftermath of humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters in collaboration with the government of the country where the disaster occurred. To get the international community to help populations in disaster-stricken countries and regions OCHA publishes "country appeals" which describes the scale of the disaster and the needs for the different sectors (food assistance, shelter, clean water, health and protection). In addition, OCHA estimates the financial resources necessary to help the needy.

In order to streamline the UN-systems assistance in humanitarian crises OCHA handles the coordination via the so-called "clusters". Cluster System consists of twelve global "clusters," consisting of the UN organizations that have expertise in that area. Each "cluster" led by the organization to which the UN has overall responsibility for a particular sector. Thus, the World Health Organization (WHO) is responsible for health, which means that WHO will coordinate the various UN organizations' efforts in a humanitarian crisis in the health sector so that there is no overlap and the UN's resources are used to best effect.

OCHA is headed by the Under Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, who is based in New York; to promote cooperation with the UN humanitarian agencies and NGOs in Geneva, OCHA has also an office in this city. OCHA's budget for 2012 amounts to 285 million US dollars. Denmark contributes to both the operation of the OCHA secretariat and OCHA's efforts to help the affected people in a humanitarian crisis through the so-called “country appeals”.