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Help in disasters, crises and conflicts overseas

Photo: IFRC

It could be a cyclone. An earthquake or a fire. A disease outbreak or even a war.

Whatever the crisis, wherever it happens, a Red Cross or Red Crescent team will be on the scene to help.

Like right now, local Red Cross teams are responding to the floods in Timor-Leste, with volunteers among the first to reach the hardest hit areas with life-saving support.

How does my donation help?

Your donation to the International Disaster Fund means Australian Red Cross and our partners can be there to help people overseas. It means we can:

  • help people overseas prepare for a crisis and reduce their risk before it happens
  • have emergency response teams in places hit hard by disasters and conflict
  • support people affected by crises to recover safely and with dignity 

You’re contributing to aid driven by local people, based on what works in their communities. It’s faster, smarter and more effective. It can help stop disasters and conflicts from becoming humanitarian crises

International Disaster Fund

Your donation means Red Cross can be there for people in disasters, crises and conflicts overseas.

Regular Donation

Giving a regular donation is our recommended option. Your donation every four weeks will help Red Cross support the most vulnerable people in our local communities, here in Australia and across the Asia Pacific.

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Questions and answers

On 4 April, flash floods and landslides swept through Timor-Leste after days of heavy rainfall. The country’s capital Dili, was severely affected with reports indicating this is the worst flooding event for the area in forty years.

More than 125,000 people have been affected, and more than 13,500 people were forced to flee to evacuation centres in search of safety. 46 people have lost their lives, with a further 10 still missing. Vital infrastructure - including electricity, communications and water systems have been damaged. Homes have been completely destroyed, with many families losing everything. Roads and bridges have been blocked by debris making it difficult to reach some of the hardest hit communities.

The situation is further complicated by a current COVID-19 outbreak across the country. When the floods hit, Timor-Leste was in the midst of a month-long lock-down. With large groups of people sheltering in crowded evacuation centres, inadequate water and sanitation facilities and a large number of medical supplies that were essential to the fight against the virus being lost or damaged in the floods, there are serious concerns of further COVID-19 outbreaks.


Australian Red Cross provides funding and training to many partners overseas, including our partners at Timor-Leste Red Cross (Cruz Vermelha Timor Leste), to help them prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters, just like the floods we are seeing now, all year round.

This vital funding helps ensure Timor-Leste Red Cross are able to cover their core operating costs, train their emergency response teams, help communities prepare for future disasters, ensure the protection of women and children during and after a disaster, and are able to provide essential relief items to people in need

Well before the floods hit, Timor-Leste Red Cross helped thousands of people evacuate from its projected path, protecting many lives. Red Cross teams also ensured shipping containers full of relief items were well stocked and ready to go.

When the floods hit, they were among the first to respond. Evacuating people to safety, reuniting families who had been separated, and distributing essential relief items such as tarpaulins, mosquito nets, mats, and blankets to families in need.

Right now, Timor-Leste Red Cross are providing food and basic medical care to those who have been affected and are managing a number of evacuation centres, providing support to people and ensuring hand washing and sanitation facilities, masks, and clean water are available to help reduce the risk of further COVID-19 outbreaks.  

Red Cross teams are also conducting damage assessments in the hardest-hit parts of the country to understand exactly what communities need to get back on their feet. Timor-Leste Red Cross will continue to support communities in the long-term as people rebuild their homes and livelihoods.

The International Disaster Fund enables Australian Red Cross to support the lifesaving work of Red Cross and Red Crescent partners in countries affected by disasters, crises and conflict. This may include disaster preparedness, risk mitigation, emergency response and recovery activities.

From time to time, we may use the fund to respond to a specific disaster event for a set period of time. All donations made during that period will be directed to Red Cross’ work on that event.

Donations over $2 to the International Disaster Fund are tax-deductible in Australia. You will get a receipt in your name in an email when you donate online.

When the fund is used for a specific event, your donation is also tax deductible because it supports our work with countries classified as ‘developing countries’ for the purposes of the Overseas Aid Gift Deduction Scheme.

When the International Disaster Fund is used for a specific event, at least 90c in the dollar goes to our humanitarian programs. Not more than 10c is used for indirect administrative costs like receipting donations, IT costs and other overheads.

Any interest earned on donations goes back into the fund to support our humanitarian work.

We really appreciate the generosity but we’re unable to distribute donated goods, especially overseas. There are several good reasons for this. Every item has to be checked, cleaned, sorted, packed, transported, stored and distributed, which hugely increases the cost of the relief effort and diverts from work that may be needed on the ground. 

When we provide relief supplies, they are carefully selected, packed for quick distribution and customs clearance, and checked to ensure they are what people really need.

Unwanted boxes of donated goods can clog ports and post offices and actually prevent the delivery of essential items like medicines and relief supplies.

The website has a great explanation of what can go wrong.

But if you have good-quality clothes or household items, our Red Cross Shops would gratefully accept them, to on-sell in Australia and raise funds for our vital work. Find your nearest Red Cross shop.

Because it ensures sound risk mitigation strategies and well-trained local response teams are in place well before a disaster strikes. The impact of the disaster on lives and homes can be reduced, and relief supplies can get to people much faster. Aid doesn’t have to be shipped in; it’s local and ready to go.