The Humanitarian Action Office

The Humanitarian Action Office (HAO)  is attached to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation, and is responsible for managing and undertaking Spain's humanitarian action. As stipulated in AECID's statute, it is one of the units that form Spanish Cooperation (Royal Decree 1403/2007, of 26 October).

The HAO has 17 members of staff in its main office and its humanitarian satellite offices in Panama, Dakar, Jerusalem, Amman, Algiers/Tindouf, Bamako and Niamey. The HAO also has a humanitarian material logistics base in Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid, Spain), and pre-positioned material in the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) in Panama. Furthermore, the HAO funds the World Food Programme (WFP) humanitarian logistics base in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

The HAO works in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation's various departments, as well as with other Ministries, such as the Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of the Interior (particularly its Civil Protection and Emergencies department). Likewise, the HAO coordinates its activities with local authorities, through the Federation of Municipalities and Provinces, and with the regional authorities, through an agreement on collaboration for joint planning of humanitarian action between AECID and a number of Spain’s Autonomous Communities, signed in 2015 and renewed in 2018. Grants have already been awarded for a dozen humanitarian projects under this agreement.

AECID has developed flexible and streamlined mechanisms for funding humanitarian action, such as emergency agreements with humanitarian NGOs, State grants for humanitarian projects, and humanitarian funds with key international partners. The HAO thus works closely with the UN Secretary-General's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and with other United Nations agencies, programmes and funds (primarily WFP, UNHCR and UNICEF), as well as with Red Cross Movement agencies (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, International Committee of the Red Cross, and Spanish Red Cross), the European Commission (EC) and the EC's Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), specialized NGOs and other donors, either from Europe or from new emerging donors.

Since its creation, the HAO has managed humanitarian aid totalling approximately 950 million euros, reaching more than 3 million people in need who have been affected by humanitarian crises, caused by conflicts or natural disasters.

In 2016, Spain became a key international actor in humanitarian action, when AECID was accredited as a specialized humanitarian aid agency by the European Union. This enabled Spain's HAO to manage European humanitarian aid funds on the ground, for example in the Shire Alliance, a public-private partnership created in 2014 to provide refugee camps and host communities of Eritrean refugees in Shire (Ethiopia) with access to energy.