The day serves as a way to raise public awareness of the incredible work that aid workers do. Likewise, it also encouraged those involved in the humanitarian system to fight for increased safety and security for aid workers. The event is given a different focus each year to ensure that all humanitarian causes are recognised.
Every day humanitarian aid workers help millions of people around the world, regardless of who they are and where they are. World Humanitarian Day is a global celebration of people helping people.
The UN Secretary-General held the first-ever global humanitarian summit of this scale in Istanbul in May 2016. The goal of this summit was to find new ways to tackle humanitarian needs in our fast-changing world. This three-year initiative is being managed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The summit set a new agenda for global humanitarian action. It focuses on humanitarian effectiveness, reducing vulnerability and managing risk, transformation through innovation, and serving the needs of people in conflict. Full details of the summit can be found here.
Around the world, conflict is exacting a massive toll on people’s lives. Trapped in wars that are not of their making, millions of civilians are forced to hide or run for their lives. Children are taken out of school, families are displaced from their homes, and communities are torn apart, while the world is not doing enough to stop their suffering. At the same time, health and aid workers , who risk their lives to care for people affected by violence, are increasingly being targeted.
This year’s message is even more encompassing - urging the global leaders to ensure that all civilians (including the aid workers) caught in the reality of war and armed conflict are not targets of military action.
For WHD 2017, humanitarian partners are coming together to reaffirm that civilians caught in conflict are #NotATarget.
Civilians are too often affected by conflict and violence, they are driven from their homes, struggle to find sufficient and nutritious food, suffer from sexual harassment, injuries or death. Today, the United Nations (UN) is calling on global leaders to take action to protect civilians. The UN has launched a petition urging the world's politicians to ensure all parties to conflict respect and protect civilians. Please sign it.
The UN has also reported multiple times throughout 2017 that civilians had been caught up in airstrikes in warzones such as Syria. With a death toll in the thousands and millions more trapped in dangerous situations, the UN is keen to ensure that innocent people aren’t harmed by political issues.
“Millions of people are trapped in wars that aren’t of their own making,” the World Humanitarian Day website reads. “We demand world leaders do everything in their power to protect the millions of civilians caught in armed conflicts.”
These demands include a promise not to launch attacks which will cause civilian harm, whether through direct injury or damage to infrastructure and services that will severely impact on quality of life.
As every year, this day also commemorates those who dedicate their lives to serve others. Humanitarian workers often operate in life-threatening environments, facing lootings, kidnapping, hostage situations, and in most extreme situations ,executions. This reduces the safety of aid workers, making it difficult, if not impossible, to provide life-saving assistance, deliver necessary relief items and care to those in desperate need.
The UN reminds us that in the past 20 years, over 4,000 aid workers have been subjects to attack and in 2016 alone, 91 humanitarians were killed while serving others, mostly in South Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Somalia. It is an imperative that all parties to conflict should respect humanitarian law, protecting the civilians but also the humanitarian workers, regardless of race, colour, sex, language, religion, or other status.
Around the world, dedicated people work every day to help people survive crisis, find hope for the future and build better lives for themselves and their families. When disasters strike or conflict erupts, they are there to provide immediate relief , and they stay long after to help communities recover and rebuild.
This World Humanitarian Day, we come together in solidarity with the millions of people caught in armed conflict.
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, works to protect and assist those fleeing war and persecution. Since 1950, they have helped tens of millions of people find safety and rebuild their lives. With your support, they can restore hope for many more.
Read more at http://UNHCR.org
Read more at http://UNHCR.org
Civilians are not a target