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OCHA releases humanitarian icons to help the COVID-19 response

06 Apr 2020




In any health or humanitarian crisis, providing streamlined information that millions of people can understand is key. Amid the global spread of COVID-19, OCHA has released 29 humanitarian icons specific to the pandemic to help communicate the facts and actions needed to prevent and respond to the virus and provide care for the most vulnerable people around the world.

Created by OCHA’s Design and Multimedia Unit, with contributions from the field (the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and Yemen operations), the new icons include symbols for lockdown, physical distancing, COVID-19 and coronavirus, infection prevention, testing, infected and not infected, and case management.  

With their easily accessible and universal visual language, icons help humanitarian workers to share complex information during the response to an emergency in a timely and compelling manner. They also help strengthen the coordination of the humanitarian response and the push for solutions – including how to best break the spread of a virus in densely populated refugee camps and informal settings where social distancing and handwashing are out of reach for many.  

The icons are used throughout information products developed by and for the humanitarian community, such as maps, reports, infographics and websites. Better and clearer information means better decision-making and therefore a more efficient response in humanitarian crises.

The new public domain icons add to a redesigned set of more than 300 humanitarian icons that OCHA released in December 2018, representing new innovations in humanitarian aid. OCHA first introduced humanitarian symbols in 2012, comprising a set of 250 icons depicting themes of interest to the humanitarian community, from natural disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes, to relief supplies such as water containers and shelter kits. They also cover complex humanitarian themes such as “access to people in need” and “protection of civilians”.

The icons are based on inputs received from OCHA staff members in the field, and also address requests from other humanitarian organizations and UN agencies.

Since their first release, OCHA’s humanitarian icons have been downloaded hundreds of times per day. In addition to OCHA offices around the world, users of the icons include UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and graphic designers.

More icons are on the way!

Click here to download the new public domain icons with the rest of the humanitarian icon set


For feedback or suggestions on the humanitarian icons, please contact