From the devastating Türkiye-Syria earthquake to the international armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the eruption of fighting in Sudan, the first half of 2023 saw humanitarian needs skyrocket across the world.

Together with our Red Cross and Red Crescent partners, our teams have been on the frontlines of conflicts and crises, providing lifesaving relief and advocating that parties to conflicts respect international humanitarian law. These photos capture some of that work as well as the incredible resilience communities have shown amidst immense suffering and loss.

Yemen: Overwhelming joy as detainees return home

In mid-April 2023, upon the request of the parties engaged in the conflict in Yemen, we successfully facilitated as a neutral intermediary the release and transfer of 973 individuals who had been detained in connection to the ongoing conflict.

One former detainee, Yasser, could barely contain his excitement as he yelled joyfully while talking to his mother over the phone for the first time in over a year: “Mother! I’m at the airport! Boarding on the plane in half an hour. I’m coming to Sanaa!”

Former detainees disembark from a plane at Sanaa airport. ©ICRC


Hugs on seeing loved ones need no words to explain.

Turkiye-Syria: Deadly quake worsens humanitarian crisis

Communities in Syria have lived through more than 12 years of a deadly armed conflict and a devastating earthquake that caused further humanitarian suffering earlier this year, leaving a trail of destruction as thousands of buildings collapsed, and tens of thousands of lives were lost. Among those affected was Suliman, featured in the photo below, who tragically lost his younger brother to the devastating quake.

Our team in Syria focused on delivering humanitarian relief to survivors of the quake. More than 30,000 people received canned food and relief items in collective shelters in Aleppo, Latakia and Hama, including blankets, mattresses, solar lights, hygiene kits, and kitchen sets.

Conflict in Sudan: Relief amid despair

Amid heavy combat that has devastated Khartoum for many gruelling weeks, a glimmer of relief emerged as 300 children and 71 dedicated caretakers from Mygoma Orphanage were successfully evacuated on 7 June 2023. The destination: Wad Madani, located approximately 200 kilometres away.

There was a general feeling of relief, as people knew they were headed towards safety, away from the sounds of gunfire. Yet, grief shadowed the moment as nannies and workers left behind their homes and years of dedication, uncertain of what lay ahead.

An ICRC staff member carrying a little child into the bus during the evacuation.

Since the start of the fighting, thousands of people have been displaced within Sudan’s borders, and tens of thousands more have found refuge in neighbouring countries such as South Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Chad and the Central African Republic. In the photo below, patients board an ICRC flight evacuating war-wounded civilians, from Adré, Chad at the Sudanese border, to N’Djamena. Patients in need of maxillofacial and neurological surgery were set to receive treatment after days of anxiety and uncertainty.

The international armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine

The recent increase in military operations in the international armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine – as well as the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam – brought additional threats, especially for communities living on either side of the frontline. We were on the ground, helping those in need.

From the first day of the flooding, we worked hand-in-hand with Red Cross Ukraine and authorities to serve emerging needs, with a particular focus on access to clean water and mine safety. This emergency assistance included tons of chlorine solution, large-capacity water pumps and tanks, thousands of jerry cans, as well as food and medical items.

The ICRC is working with its Red Cross partners and other humanitarian actors, as well as authorities at the regional and local levels, to assess and respond to longer-term needs. We have already started supporting upstream communities to develop short-term coping mechanisms and will be supporting authorities in finding alternative water sources in selected locations.

Ukrainian Red Cross volunteers help affected people after the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam.


Ukrainian Red Cross volunteers provided clean drinking water.

Igniting the flame of self-sufficiency in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, the weight of decades of armed conflict, dwindling incomes, scarce job prospects, and the harsh realities of climate change are taking an unbearable toll on families struggling to survive. From January to June 2023, we stepped up to support over 28,000 individuals with multipurpose cash assistance, providing a lifeline to meet their most essential needs. We also created opportunities for over 3,000 people through cash-for-work initiatives, empowering them to earn a vital income and safeguard their livelihoods.

Gulistan, Farah, Afghanistan. Restoring communities’ irrigation canals through the implementation of cash-for-work projects to protect agricultural lands against floods.

Mexico: Helping people find answers about missing loved ones

For more than 150 years, the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network has been working to clarify the fate of missing people. Given their proximity to their communities, National Society staff and volunteers, with the support of the ICRC, often play a key role in supporting families in the search for missing or separated loved ones.

Olga Blanca Mondragón, speaks to an ICRC staff member about her husband, Lenin Bladimir Castañón Rodríguez, who disappeared in Chilpancingo on Tuesday, July 9, 2019. His body was located and delivered to his family days after this photo was taken.

Delivering food kits in Colombia

Decades of armed conflict have left 8.8 million victims in Colombia. Urgent humanitarian challenges include: supporting communities affected by violence, helping the families of missing people, and advocating for the protection of migrants.

In the rural area of Chocó, we delivered 700 non-perishable food kits to six Afro-descendant communities, victims of confinement related to violence. After three days of travelling along the Cajón and Taparal rivers, we reached the rural communities of Sipí and Nóvita, where we delivered the kits to 986 people who now have basic elements for their nutrition.