World Humanitarian Day commemorated in Sri Lanka

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 21 Aug 2012

Colombo, Sri Lanka (21 August 2012). The World Humanitarian Day which falls annually on the 19 of August was observed today by the United Nations and the broader humanitarian community together with the Government of Sri Lanka at the UN compound. Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development and other senior government officials, presided at the event.

Worldwide, every day humanitarian workers face life threatening situations in their line of work. It is a day to recognize those who face danger and adversity while helping others. The day also seeks to remind the global population on the humanitarian needs worldwide and the importance of international cooperation in meeting these needs.

This year’s theme “I Was Here” is about individuals marking their footprint on Earth by doing something good, somewhere, for someone else. “Individual actions may seem small, but collectively they will reverberate around the world, generating unstoppable momentum for a better future” said the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The campaign reached one billion people around the world through online social media to spread the message and the spirit of solidarity to bring forth the ‘humanitarian’ within each person.

While congratulating the Sri Lankan Government’s joint efforts with the humanitarian community to resettle the internally displaced people and provide sustainable solutions to war affected population in the North, Mr. Subinay Nandy, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator emphasized the importance of working together to address the remaining humanitarian needs in order to find durable solution, genuine reconciliation for lasting peace in the country. He also appealed for the continued supports from the donor community in providing sustainable solutions to those who suffer from the indignities of war.

The Government of Sri Lanka commended the United Nations system particularly for providing assistance in resolving the remaining challenges and assured all the humanitarian stakeholders including the international community and INGOs that “the commitment to humanitarian endeavors by the Government of Sri Lanka will continue undiminished”.

Mr. Tissa Abeywickrama, Director General of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society highlighted that humanitarianism has always been embedded in Sri Lankan culture and urged everyone to volunteer in helping others. He said “humanitarianism is not something practiced in an organizational context only. It can be individual and it is not impossible. Hence, I sincerely invite you to find the humanitarian in you”.

Emergency response is only one aspect of humanitarian work. Humanitarian work also involves in building resilience among the communities to face the disasters which is not easy. Thus, the onus lies more on the humanitarian workers to also support the communities to be prepared, to rebuild their lives after disasters, to become more resilient to future crises, to advocate for their voices to be heard, and to build lasting and sustainable peace in areas of conflict.

In recognition of the ‘millions of people globally affected by natural disasters, war, sickness and malnutrition and those working to relieve their suffering’, the World Humanitarian Day was designated by the UN General Assembly in December 2008 and commemorates the day 22 humanitarian staff tragically who lost their lives in Iraq in a massive bomb attack on the Baghdad headquarters of the UN in 2003.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

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