The 19th of August is World Humanitarian Day, a project coordinated by the United Nations to celebrate and recognise the vital and difficult work of humanitarian workers everywhere. World Humanitarian Day commemorates the events of the 19th of August 2003, when 22 people were killed after the United Nations office in Iraq was bombed.1 Countless humanitarian workers have lost their lives carrying out their perilous, altruistic work before and since this date, but the UN sees this event in Iraq as a catalyst for deeper global reflection about the sacrifices and success of thousands of humanitarians around the world. On the 19th of August, take a little time to learn a little bit more about the conditions under which humanitarians carry out their work (see below for some statistics). Simply spread some of this information through your social networks, including on Facebook and Twitter, or take this opportunity to seek out humanitarian projects in your local area and participate in other public events in your home town or city.
Check out this film project featuring aid workers from across the globe. For more information on Word Humanitarian Day, read on.
Humanitarians work in dangerous, conflict-afflicted areas. John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs says: ‘By definition, the people who are working trying to tackle humanitarian need are working in places which are often remote, usually difficult, and very often dangerous as well, because that’s where the conflicts are and that’s where the natural disasters happen‘ (OCHA 2010b: 1). Ocha reports on data from the Aid Worker Security Database, which finds that:
1. Ocha (2010a).
OCHA (2010a) ‘World Humanitarian Day: Leaflet’, online resource last accessed 7 August 2010: http://ochaonline.un.org/whd/docs/Leaflet/whd_2010_InfoFlyer_en.pdf
OCHA (2010b) ‘World Humanitarian Day: Security Trends’, online resource last accessed 7 August 2010: http://ochaonline.un.org/whd/docs/SecuritySheet/whd_2010_security_sheet_en.pdf
For more information on World Humanitarian Day, check out the OCHA World Humanitarian Day website.
For more information on the Aid Worker Security Database: A Project of Humanitarian Outcomes, click here.