World Humanitarian Day ~ August 19 2014

19 Aug 2014

imageundp lebanon - members of panel during honoring ceremony at the World Humanitarian Day

World Humanitarian Day marks the anniversary of the UN Headquarters bombing in Baghdad in 2003 when 22 people, including UN humanitarian veteran Sergio Vieria de Mello, lost their lives. It is a tribute to aid workers worldwide, a commemoration to those who have lost their lives and a celebration of the spirit of humanitarian work around the world.

“On World Humanitarian Day, we honour the heroic aid workers who rush bravely to help people in need. We remember their sacrifices, and we recognize the millions of people who count on humanitarian workers for their very survival”, said the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

A research by Humanitarian Outcomes shows that in 2013, 155 aid workers were killed, 171 were seriously wounded and 134 were kidnapped. Overall this represents a 66 per cent increase in numbers of victims from the previous year.

“One aid worker killed in the line of duty is one too many. Nurses, engineers, logisticians and drivers for example all take great risk doing their work in sometimes extremely dangerous and difficult circumstances. World Humanitarian Day is the day we remember the sacrifices that humanitarian workers make. We also pay tribute to all humanitarians who work to help and support the most vulnerable,” said Valerie Amos, the UN Humanitarian Chief, attending a memorial service in London for aid workers killed.

Globally, there are 108 million people right now in need of humanitarian assistance. In this region, this last year has seen a dreadful increase in killing and displacement, which has severely impacted Lebanon. There are over 11 million people in need inside Syria, and almost three million people have sought refuge across Syria’s borders and beyond. Some 1.2 million in Lebanon alone.

Lebanon is the scene of a major humanitarian operation. Thousands of Lebanese workers, employed by local and international organisations, including the United Nations, are front line responders bringing respite to the plight of people in need in Lebanon.

“Thousands of ordinary Lebanese are silently and selflessly helping those who have lost everything. This is the spirit that marks the essence of what it means to be a humanitarian. Tomorrow, World Humanitarian Day in Lebanon will pay tribute to Lebanese humanitarian workers and organizations and all those engaged in this effort” said Ross Mountain, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Lebanon.

During his speech, minister Derbas stressed on the importance of the international decisions which aim to provide humanitarian assistance and interventions and despite their importance, the credit is given to those who have left their homes and families in order to complete the missions they have volunteered for. He also wondered how long afflicted communities would still be in need for humanitarian support, in addition to the poor and needy who remain victims to systems of tyranny and exploitation.

As part of the World Humanitarian Day celebration, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs hosted an event with the presence of H.E Mr. Rashid Derbas, Minister of Social Affairs and Mr. Ross Mountain and representatives from the humanitarian and diplomatic community, which took  place on August 19, 2014 at the UNESCO Palace to honour Lebanese humanitarian workers. A panel discussion on the theme “Being humanitarian: addressing challenges in Lebanon” was organized following the showing of a film ‘Voices from Lebanon’, featuring Lebanese humanitarian workers. The Panel featured: President Kettaneh from the Lebanese Red Cross, Doctor Mohanna from Amel Association, President Charafeddine from the Sadr Foundation, President Daouk from the Makassed Philantropic Islamic Association, and a representative from the international Non-Governmental Organisations.

During the World Humanitarian Day celebration, a new platform to inspire and mobilize action on global emergencies will be launched. The site – Messengers of Humanity - will build a community of thousands of advocates who will be asked to share content and stories on social networks. We hope that people will then be inspired to take action.