World Humanitarian Day (19 August 2010)
T JOSEPH BENZIGER
The Day’s theme: I am a humanitarian
Take any country, society or town or village or organization, some people are always special. When the normal life is disturbed, when natural calamities occur, when enemies attack, when the law of the jungle prevails, it is not that all the people come forward to meet the challenge, take personal risks and work for common good; but some people do. They fight the evil forces and try to help the affected persons. They face the rowdy elements boldly and in their mission many times even lose their lives and properties. What makes them such a noble men and women, capable of placing the public interest before their own? Such gems of human beings deserve any praise. The whole of the humankind has no means of fully repaying its debt to these special persons. There is no way of compensating adequately for the losses and sufferings these special people have willingly undergone in the larger interests of their compatriots, kith and kin. These humanitarian actors distinguish themselves from ordinary men and women who care only for themselves.
Humanitarian Principles represent the foundation of humanitarian action. Key humanitarian principles include:1
Humanity: Human suffering must be addressed wherever it is found. The purpose of humanitarian action is to protect life and health and ensure respect for human beings.
Neutrality: Humanitarian actors must not take sides in hostilities or engage in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.
Impartiality: Humanitarian action must be carried out on the basis of need alone, giving priority to the most urgent cases of distress and making no distinctions on the basis of nationality, race, gender, religious belief, class or political opinion.
Operational Independence: Humanitarian action must be autonomous from the political, economic, military or other objectives that any actor may hold with regard to areas where humanitarian action is being implemented".
The United Nations General Assembly declared2 on In December 2008, that World Humanitarian Day should be celebrated on 19 August every year to “contribute to increasing public awareness about humanitarian work and the importance of international cooperation, and to commemorate all humanitarian and United Nations and associated personnel who have worked in the promotion of the humanitarian cause, and those who have lost their lives in the course of duty.” It was on this day in 2003, twenty-two people lost their lives, including the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Sergio Vieira de Mello in the Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad in 2003. The World Humanitarian Day is for remembering not only those who died in this incident but all those who sacrificed their lives for humanitarian causes. These celebrations are meant to emphasize the significance of humanitarian needs and challenges in all parts of the world. Humanitarian aid workers are attacked by the conflicting parties for no fault on their parts, without any consideration for their spirit of service. This provides us an occasion to honor those who sacrificed their lives and also to emphasize the causes for which they did it.
At World Humanitarian Day ceremony
the Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, spoke on the second World Humanitarian Day on 19 August 2010, said3 that the anniversary of the Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad and of the death of Sergio Vieira de Mello, a great humanitarian, was meant to remember the tens of millions of people affected by war, natural disasters, sickness, and malnutrition, and those who are working to relieve their suffering. He pointed out that even though the relief workers want only to save lives by delivering the basics of life, they have been attacked and killed in many cases. He mentioned that 102 humanitarian workers were killed in 2009 and 122 in 2008 brutally. In 2010, thus far 40 humanitarian workers have been killed. In the beginning of August, ten health workers were brutally murdered in Afghanistan. He explained that the climate change and natural hazards are sure to increase the need for humanitarian work in future. He appealed to show greater respect for humanitarian work. He made it clear that humanitarian work is beyond ideological conflicts and standpoints. Only their commitment to humanitarianism emboldens them to undertake such risky service for common good. He referred to the catastrophic crisis in Pakistan and said that it was a good time for a renewed commitment to humanitarian principles by all.
UN Secretary-general Ban Ki- moon called on4 the international community to remember and honor humanitarian workers and their sacrifices as they have been making their tireless efforts to help those who have lived through wars, catastrophes and other terrible events. He said, "They are an army of peace, bearing the torch of hope. They are the unsung heroes, international aid workers, relief specialists, doctors and nurses and so many others."
ceremony to observe the second annual World Humanitarian Day at the UN Headquarters in New York, the United States, Aug. 19, 2010.
Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called on the international community to remember and honor humanitarian workers and their sacrifices as they have been making their tireless efforts to help those who have lived through wars, catastrophes and other terrible events.
Ban placed a wreath at a plaque honoring 22 UN humanitarian workers killed in the Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad on Aug. 19, 2003. He said, "Every day in every corner of the world where people live in fear of desperation, we are there. Today on World Humanitarian Day we renew our pledge: In times of crisis to do our utmost to save lives, to offer hope, to be there for those in need during their darkest hour."
He reminded of the many sacrifices that aid workers have made, sometimes at the expense of their lives. He pointed out, "We know the work is dangerous; often they go boldly where others fear to tread. Increasingly they risk harassment and intimidation, kidnapping or even death."
He referred to the great losses of life for UN workers in 2010 Haiti earthquake and to the murder of health workers in Afghanistan earlier this month. He praised the recent efforts of humanitarian workers currently serving in Pakistan, where deadly floods have impacted millions of people.
Ban also praised John Holmes, the outgoing UN under- secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator. He observed, "Everywhere he has used his vast political skills and his moral authority to make a difference in people's lives, and everywhere, he will be missed."
Hillary Rodham Clinton in her special message5 on World Humanitarian Day, has said, “We at the Department of State join citizens around the world in paying tribute to the heroes who provide assistance to victims of conflict and natural disasters, and in honoring the memory of more than 700 humanitarian workers who have been killed in service over the past decade. This year’s commemoration of World Humanitarian Day follows the vicious murder of ten international medical volunteers in Afghanistan earlier this month. Their sacrifice is a poignant reminder of humanitarian relief workers’ courageous service around the world, which we are proud and privileged to support.
Providing humanitarian aid to help rebuild lives is a core commitment of the United States. Relief workers embody the universal truth that we are at our best when we come together to help the most vulnerable among us. Time and again, this ideal puts humanitarian workers on the front lines of crises, from the earthquake in Haiti to the floods in Pakistan or any of the conflicts that dot the globe. For their selflessness, their courage, and their sacrifice, they have our deepest admiration and respect. The United States is fully committed to doing everything we can to provide for their safety and security, and to give them the tools they need to continue their indispensable mission on our behalf.”
Dynamic Youth Online Magazine salutes all the brave humanitarian workers for their selfless service and sacrifices. We wish that their sacrifices would not go waste; but would kindle good conscience of all the conflicting people and make them stop hurting the humanitarian workers.