World Humanitarian Day, observed each year in August, stands as a poignant reminder of the unwavering compassion and courage exhibited by humanitarian workers across the globe. This day not only pays tribute to the selfless individuals who dedicate their lives to alleviating suffering in times of crisis and conflict but also serves as a call to action for all of us to stand united in support of those in need.
As we commemorate the sacrifices made by these unsung heroes, we are prompted to reflect on the profound impact of their endeavours. We wish to ignite a collective spirit of empathy and responsibility, fostering a world where compassion knows no boundaries.
When is World Humanitarian Day?
World Humanitarian Day is observed annually on 19th August to pay tribute to humanitarian workers and raise awareness about the challenges they face while carrying out their work. The day also commemorates the tragic bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2003, which resulted in the deaths of 22 UN staff members, including the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. You can read a few of their incredible survival stories here.
The history behind World Humanitarian Day.
The history of World Humanitarian Day dates back to 2008 when the United Nations General Assembly designated 19th August as World Humanitarian Day to honour humanitarian workers who risk their lives to provide assistance and support to people affected by crises, conflicts and natural disasters. The first observance of World Humanitarian Day took place on the 19th of August 2009 and it has since become an annual event to recognise the contributions of humanitarian workers and advocate for the safety and well-being of those who dedicate themselves to saving lives and alleviating suffering.
What’s this year’s theme?
Each year, World Humanitarian Day focuses on a particular theme or issue related to humanitarian work. Activities and events are organised globally to highlight the importance of humanitarian efforts and to inspire people to take action and support those in need. The day also serves as a platform to call for greater support and protection for humanitarian workers and to raise awareness about the challenges they face, such as access to affected populations, security risks, and the need for funding to carry out their work effectively.
For this year’s theme, WHD has launched #NoMatterWhat.
“We stand shoulder to shoulder with the communities we serve, no matter who, no matter where and #NoMatterWhat.”
How you can get involved and help.
World Humanitarian Day is an opportunity to acknowledge the resilience, dedication and compassion of humanitarian workers and to remind the world of the urgent need to uphold the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence in delivering assistance to vulnerable populations.
There are several meaningful ways you can contribute and make a difference on World Humanitarian Day:
Raise awareness: Spread the word about World Humanitarian Day on social media platforms and among your friends, family and colleagues. Share informative posts, stories and articles that highlight the importance of humanitarian work and the challenges faced by those in crisis.
Support humanitarian organisations: Consider donating to reputable humanitarian organisations that provide essential aid and assistance to those in need. Research and choose organisations that align with your values and have a track record of transparent and effective work.
Volunteer: If possible, volunteer your time and skills to local or international humanitarian initiatives. Many organisations offer opportunities for volunteers to contribute to various projects, from disaster relief to community development.
Educate yourself: Learn more about humanitarian issues, conflicts and crises happening around the world. Understanding the context and challenges faced by affected populations can help you advocate more effectively and raise awareness.
Advocate: Use your voice to advocate for the protection and support of humanitarian workers and those affected by crises. Write letters to your local MP, and sign petitions. Participate in campaigns that call for better policies and resources for humanitarian efforts.
Host an event: Organise an event or discussion in your community or online to engage others in conversations about humanitarian issues. This could include film screenings, panel discussions, workshops or fundraising events.
Support fundraising initiatives: Participate in fundraising campaigns or initiatives organised by humanitarian organisations. You can also set up your own fundraising campaign to encourage friends and family to contribute.
Show gratitude: Take the time to express your gratitude to humanitarian workers who tirelessly serve those in need. Write letters or messages of appreciation, send care packages or participate in initiatives that honour their dedication.
Spread positivity: Share stories of hope and resilience from the communities and individuals who have benefited from humanitarian assistance. Positive narratives can inspire others to get involved and make a positive impact.
Lobby for change: Engage with decision-makers and influencers to advocate for policies that prioritise humanitarian needs. Promote peace and prevent conflicts and crises.
Small actions can have a significant impact. By participating in World Humanitarian Day and contributing in any way you can, you play a part in creating a more compassionate and supportive world for those who are most vulnerable.
More information on helping and donating can be found below.