Skip to content


United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Mandated by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 46/182 of December 1991, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, coordinates humanitarian assistance in complex emergencies due to armed conflict or natural disaster. OCHA also mobilizes funds for the humanitarian UN-agencies and NGOs and works on humanitarian policy, advocacy and information management.

OCHA is a relatively small UN agency with an annual budget of around USD 250 million and 2.000 staff working in dual headquarters in New York and Geneva. Since 2017, OCHA has been headed by the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Under Secretary-General Mark Lowcock, a former Permanent Secretary of United Kingdom’s development organization DFID.

Upon a crisis, OCHA estimates the scale of the disaster and the needs for the different sectors (food assistance, shelter, clean water, health and protection) and assesses the financial resources needed to alleviate the humanitarian suffering. On this background, an appeal is launched to which donors can contribute.

OCHA carries out its coordination function primarily through the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC), which is chaired by the Emergency Relief Coordinator. Participants include all humanitarian partners, from United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, to the Red Cross movement and NGOs. The IASC ensures inter-agency decision-making in response to complex emergencies. These responses include needs assessments, consolidated appeals, field coordination arrangements and the development of humanitarian policies.
On the ground, OCHA collaborates with the global clusters in the so-called humanitarian cluster system, where relevant organisations with expertise in the specific areas organise their efforts as part of the coordinated humanitarian response. Each cluster is led by the UN organisation, which has the overall responsibility for the given area – e.g. the World Health Organisation (WHO) is lead for the Health Cluster – but also non-UN organisations are part of the clusters.
The Emergency Relief Coordinator is also the head of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which is UN’s pooled-funding mechanism for provision of time-critical, un-earmarked humanitarian assistance, covering long-lasting or “forgotten” crises as well.

Denmark is committed to strengthening humanitarian relief efforts through better management, more efficient funding mechanisms and the development of new partnerships. In 2020 Denmark made a core contribution to OCHA of DKK 70 million or USD 10.1 million, and additionally, Denmark provides funding to the CERF and a number of the Country-Based Pooled Funds managed by OCHA. 

Under-Secretary-General/Emergency Relief Coordinator  Mr. Mark Lowcock 
Acting Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs/Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Mr. Ramesh Rajasingham
Governing body  As part of the UN Secretariat, and financially and programmatically accountable to the General Assembly, OCHA does not have a governing body such as an executive board.
Denmark’s un-earmarked contribution to OCHA in 2020  70 million DKK

For more information on OCHA, see
Edited May 2020