World Humanitarian Day 19th August

    World Humanitarian Day 19th August

    In a world which sometimes appears a little bereft of humanitarian behaviour it’s nice to know that there are countless kind and courageous soles who work tirelessly to better the lives of those less fortunate.

    The United Nations Humanitarian forces, and organisations such as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent do incredible work; providing food, shelter, water and medical supplies and this fearless work and boundless kindness saves countless lives and reduces suffering. Humanitarian groups serve millions of people around the planet, the Red Cross serving an estimated 160 million people a year.

    This year’s World Humanitarian Day is the 15th so far, and the 19th August is the anniversary of a bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad which killed 22 humanitarian workers, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq. Five years later the United Nations designated the 19th August as World Humanitarian Day.

    20 years on from the atrocity in Baghdad the world has grown in population and complexity and rising geopolitical tensions have made the planet a more dangerous place for humanitarians; with too many governments showing a total disregard of humanitarian law. And so while the work of the UN, Red Cross and others becomes ever more important; the challenges they face are spiralling too.

    World Humanitarian Day focuses on a theme each year, and for 2023 it is #NoMatterWhat as the workers strive to support communities which are in serious strife, no matter who they are, where they are and what obstacles stand in the way. It’s important to remember that humanitarians have no purpose other than to deliver the basic necessities to the poorest people in the world and to help keep them safe and healthy in sometimes extremely dangerous situations. That they put themselves personally at risk, day after day, says much about the character and priorities of these people; and so World Humanitarian Day is a time to remember those who have fallen and those who suffer hardship in their care for others.

    In 2021, 460 aid workers were attacked, 140 were killed, 203 wounded and 117 were kidnapped, and of the aid workers who died more than half (53 per cent) were staff of national NGOs. The most dangerous places to operate, in 2021, were in South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria though the Russian invasion of Ukraine has made that country just as dangerous.

    The Yemen is the country most in need of humanitarian aid with an estimated 21 million people, around two thirds of the country’s population in need of aid, and over 12 million are believed to be in acute need, which makes the Yemen the biggest human crisis territory in the world.

    Humanitarians are bound together by their principles of humanity, impartiality and independence and they will not compromise on these principles as they work tirelessly to make the world a better place for those in the greatest need…#NoMatterWhat.

    Let’s remember them all on the 19th.

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