Aden, Yemen.
NRC’s education assistant Malka Mohammed (26) remembers March of 2015 well and how it went from being a joyful month of celebrations and weddings before it turned into a living nightmare. She worked as an English teacher in her home city of Aden when one day her colleague came running to her classroom, knocking madly on the door and shouting: "They’re attacking the city!"

"We evacuated the school, there was a lot of confusion. There was shooting everywhere," she recounts.

Over the next few weeks, it got worse and the fighting  drew closer to Malka’s home. 

"Every day I heard stories of how people had been killed and I saw the remains of destroyed buildings. It scared me to death. I was particularly afraid during those early morning hours around 5 am when the airstrikes began." 

She remembers one day waking up to the screams of the little girl next door.

"I ran out on to the streets without wearing my abaya or even a scarf on my head. I was running like crazy and the street was full of people. It felt like it was going to be the last day on earth, the sky was covered in red lightening."

Malka and her mother ran as fast as they could. They eventually reached a house and were welcomed in by the people living there. They stayed until the next morning. 

A stranger helped Malka that day. Now, she is helping others. 

As an education assistant in southern Yemen, her job is to make sure children living in the midst of conflict can still access school. Through our education work, we rehabilitate and rebuild schools destroyed by shelling and other attacks, we distribute school materials, teach teachers and organise school feeding.

"We cannot lose education in Yemen. If we lose education, we can lose a whole generation," she says, and continues: "Education is so important, and that’s why we try to support young Yemenis to create a better life for themselves, and a future." Photo: Ingrid Prestetun/NRC

We assisted 8.5 million people last year

With the help of our supporters, the Norwegian Refugee Council provided assistance and protection to 8.5 million refugees and people displaced in their own country in 2018, spread over 31 countries.

"NRC colleagues reached 8.5 million people in need last year, in areas with massive displacement. Few know how dangerous and difficult it is to serve communities in need within conflict zones. I’m proud to be working with such dedicated colleagues in the world’s worst displacement crises," says NRC’s Secretary General Jan Egeland.

Read caption Photo: Enayatullah Azad/NRC

Six areas of focus

NRC specialises in six main activities in the field. Food security helped most people in 2018, and also saw the largest increase from the previous year. In total, we provided 2.7 million people with food or livelihoods. Clean water and improved sanitation was our second largest activity, and helped 2.5 million people. Shelter, legal aid and education followed and all had an increase from the previous year. Camp management experienced a decline from 2017.

Read caption The graph shows how many people we assisted in 2018 per activity in the field.

This is how many people we assisted in some of the world’s worst crises:

SOUTH SUDAN: 1,226,000
The humanitarian situation in South Sudan has been critical for several years following the outbreak of civil war in 2013. The peace agreement in September 2018 has given some hope, but the peace is fragile and many dare not return home. In 2018, NRC contributed to food security for 930,000 people. NRC also assists many people from South Sudan in neighbouring Uganda.

YEMEN: 706,000
2018 was a disastrous year for Yemen, and the United Nations describes it as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis today. Conflict, economic deterioration and non-payment of public salaries have left two-thirds of Yemen’s population – over 20 million people – in need of humanitarian aid, and there’s a threat of widespread famine. NRC ensured that half a million people received food and provided clean drinking water to over 200,000.

SOMALIA: 658,000
Somalia has undergone one of Africa’s most prolonged humanitarian crises and the level of conflict increased again in 2018. NRC contributed to providing food security and clean water for 270,000 people displaced inside Somalia, in addition to providing education and legal aid and building homes for thousands of people. NRC also helped Somali refugees in Kenya and Ethiopia.

DR CONGO: 643,000
DR Congo has for many years been among the countries in the world with the most internally displaced people. In 2018, there was a 70 per cent increase in hunger from the previous year. In addition, Ebola broke out at the end of the year. NRC contributed with food security to over half a million people, built homes for over 340,000 and provided education to more than 200,000. NRC also assisted Congolese refugees in Uganda.

ETHIOPIA: 545,000
Ethiopia signed a peace agreement with neighbouring Eritrea in July 2018, and there are positive developments in several areas of Ethiopia. Despite this, there are still millions of internally displaced people in the country because of ethnic-based conflicts. Ethiopia is also host to a large number of refugees from Eritrea, Somalia and South Sudan. NRC provided housing for 200,000 and clean water for nearly 300,000 refugees and internally displaced people in Ethiopia in 2018.

SYRIA: 482,000
More than six million people are still internally displaced in Syria, and even more have fled to other countries. Despite the fact that the fighting in Syria has decreased, it is still unsafe for most people to return. NRC has helped hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people throughout Syria gain access to education, food, legal aid, shelter and clean water. NRC also provides assistance to several hundred thousand Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.

Read caption The graph shows how many people we’ve assisted since 2011.