Freedom of information is not only a human right, but also an essential tool to engage and empower citizens to demand accountability from governments and fight corruption.
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Transparency International (TI) has long held that the most damaging impact of corruption is the diversion of basic resources from poor people. Corruption in humanitarian aid is the most egregious form of this, as it deprives the most vulnerable poor people, the victims of natural disasters and civil conflicts, of essential life-saving resources. Humanitarian assistance aims to save lives and alleviate the suffering of people in times of crisis. Yet these noble ambitions do not immunise emergency responses from corrupt abuse. There were numerous examples of corruption during the massive Asian tsunami humanitarian response, and examples of substantial diversion of aid resources have been reported recently in Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia and Somalia. In response to this concern, TI launched a programme in 2005 to diagnose corruption risks specific to humanitarian operations and to develop a set of good practices aimed at mitigating those risks. The first, diagnostic phase culminated in the publication of a report on Mapping the Risks of Corruption in Humanitarian Action, in 2006. We hope that this handbook will offer guidance and support to the many people in the humanitarian sector who devote their lives to alleviating the suffering of the most vulnerable people. The handbook is dedicated to their work, to their resilience and courage to support those who are most in need: the victims of natural disasters and civil conflict.