The 19th August is celebrated as World Humanitarian Day (WHD) in order to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world. Martin Luther King a Civil Rights Activist has said “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
This day brings attention to the millions of civilians affected by armed conflict every day. As humanitarian workers deliver aid, and medical workers treat the wounded and sick, they are directly targeted, treated as threats, and prevented from bringing relief and care to those in desperate need. These workers often battle violence, local diseases and hunger while attempting to save lives and provide relief to those most in need. Killings, kidnappings and attacks are daily risks in a world where 80% of humanitarian aid is being delivered to civilians caught up by conflict. On this day, it is imperative to remember thousands of humanitarian workers who are risking their lives to try to deliver assistance to those suffering the effects of terrible conflicts. The world should show zero tolerance to those in conflicts who flagrantly fail to respect and protect humanitarian workers in accordance with international humanitarian law.
WHD is an opportunity to celebrate the spirit of people helping people. The day is dedicated to recognising those who face danger and adversity to help others, regardless of who they are and where they are. Despite all the money and aid that is being given for humanitarian relief, it is still estimated that one-third of all global humanitarian needs are not being met. By helping others, many people sacrifice their most precious possession: their life. World Humanitarian Day pays tribute to those who have perished in humanitarian service globally. Everyone can be a humanitarian. People affected by disasters are often the first to help their own communities following a disaster. Responding to emergencies is only one aspect of humanitarian work.
For decades humanitarianism has captured and shaped the dreams of the populations of the global North, dreams of a better world, of a common humanity, of goodness, of solidarity, and of global healing. Attacks on humanitarian workers hinder the ability of people in desperate need to receive lifesaving assistance. WHO has a specific mandate to protect the human right to health, especially for people affected by humanitarian emergencies.
Daniel D. Palmer a Founder of Chiropractic has rightly said, “The most wonderful study of mankind is man. Relieving human suffering and diffusing universal knowledge is humanitarian.” On World Humanitarian Day, let us honour the heroic aid workers who rush bravely to help people in need. It’s a day to pay tribute to those who help the world’s most vulnerable people and to redouble efforts to provide emergency aid to global victims of crises. Let us remember their sacrifices, and recognise the millions of people who count on humanitarian workers for their very survival. Let us honour the fallen by protecting those who carry on their work – and supporting humanitarian relief operations worldwide.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)