World Humanitarian Day ǀ 19th August 2015

humanitarian heroes
Image credit to worldhumanitarianday.org

World Humanitarian Day falls on 19th August, the day in 2003 when 22 aid workers were killed in a bombing at the UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. It’s a day to commemorate all people who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the world and those who face danger and adversity in order to help others. The day was designated by the general assembly.

Since December 2008 there has been a different theme each year, this year we are shining the spotlight on humanitarians around the world and profiling Humanitarian Heroes – people from all walks of life, who are committed to making a difference. World Humanitarian Day is an opportunity to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the world. Thousands of people across the globe are doing incredible work every day. But unfortunately some of them pay the ultimate price. This World Humanitarian Day, we honour those humanitarians who face danger to help people in need. We remember their sacrifice. By tweeting #humanitarianheroes you stand in support for those who risk their lives every day. Visit our world map to see the support-taking place around the world leading up to and on this important day.

humanitarian day
Image credit to un.org

One such hero is Mohammed Khalil El Halabi. He is the Gaza Zonal Manager for World Vision and is currently working in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. He provides countless people who are staying in informal shelters with food and hygiene kits. Along with his organisation he has also helped more than 1,500 children in 15 “child friendly spaces”, 350 injured children in hospitals and 600 in neighbourhoods. In addition, World Vision workers have helped 8,000 parents undertake psychological first aid training, which significantly reduces the stress on children during conflict. Other such heroes are Dang Thuy Hanh and Tsukasa Katsube. Hanh is a programme officer from the International Organisation for Migration currently stationed in Vietnam. She has worked on gender-related projects, empowering migrant women and helping victims of gender-violence and human trafficking to integrate into the community.

Events to mark the day include an exhibition in Istanbul, a celebration and panel discussion in Beijing, an expo in Milan which will include a high-level discussion on world peace, and a parade for worldwide humanitarian solidarity. The Palais des Nations in Geneva will also play host to a major event which will include a debate on humanitarian issues and a ceremony organised by the Sergio Vieira de Mello foundation, a prominent humanitarian group named after a UN diplomat who died in the 2003 Baghdad bombing.

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