With the theme of ‘One Humanity’, World Humanitarian Day (WHD) this year recognizes and applauds the countless aid workers who have lost their lives or injured themselves in the course of their work, and to acknowledge the ongoing work of humanitarian staff and volunteers around the world.
The World Humanitarian Day was declared by the United Nations’ General Assembly seven years ago, to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. It serves as a reminder to all of us that, in the most dangerous situations imaginable, there are people tirelessly working for the benefit of those less fortunate than themselves.
It is estimated that today more than 130 million people worldwide require humanitarian assistance in order to survive and, earlier this year, during the first ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, a United Nations commitment was made to support those affected by crises, as well as those individuals who go out of their way to deliver aid to those in need. This milestone summit marks a major shift in how the international community prevents human suffering by preparing for and responding to crises.
Yet, we have to recognize that the world is at a critical juncture, as we are witnessing unparalleled human suffering since the Second World War. More than 60 million people, mostly children, have been forced from their homes due to conflicts and violence. The human and economic cost of disasters caused by natural hazards is also on the rise. Over the past two decades, 218 million people each year were affected by disasters; at an annual cost to the global economy that now exceeds $300 billion. In the meantime, we must continually seek better ways to meet the needs of millions of people affected by conflicts and disasters in our rapidly changing world.
Everyday, humanitarian aid workers stand on the front lines of war and disaster to provide life-saving assistance to millions of people worldwide. These people brave tremendous dangers and difficulties to deliver assistance to those who need it most and it is fitting that we applaud their absolute selflessness on this special day.
In honor of them, a number of events will take place around the world on 19 August. For instance, in New York a wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the United Nations headquarters, as well as a high profile event that will be held in the General Assembly Hall. Also a digital campaign will be launched on the day, to raise awareness of the impossible choices faced by people caught in crisis. Photography exhibitions and film screenings will complement these activities by documenting and portraying the lives of those affected by conflict and disaster. At Dubai Cares we join other aid organizations around the world in thanking and praising humanitarian workers for their efforts. All of us highly value the role these individuals play in ensuring that those most in need receive assistance, be it medical care, food or continuing their education. Dubai Cares supports emergency education interventions in difficult contexts around the world whose success depends largely on the bravery and resilience of the people carrying out the work on the ground. Their efforts today will impact future generations in the best possible way and I would humbly ask that anyone who reads these words might pause for a moment and reflect on the sacrifices these people make each and every day.