Helping Hands: World Humanitarian Day Africa 2013

World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is a United Nations General Assembly-designated day dedicated to the recognition of humanitarian personnel and those who have lost their lives working for humanitarian causes. Commemorated on the 19th of August, it marks the day in 2003 when the then Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello, and twenty-one of his colleagues were killed in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad. WHD keeps the humanitarian torch burning, reminding all that the tragic loss of Sergio and his colleagues on that fateful day, as well as that of all personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifices in relieving the suffering of victims of humanitarian crises, have not been in vain. It celebrates the passion for humanitarian work.

A sizeable proportion of humanitarian personnel work in Africa to alleviate the suffering of millions of people caught in between opposing sides in violent conflict or affected by natural disasters. In 2012, WHD was marked globally under the theme 'I Was Here'

The focus of the commemorative activities in 2013 is to turn words into action.

The African Union Commission and the humanitarian community in Addis Ababa will be marking the 2013 WHD under the theme ‘Helping Hands’.

Through the 'Helping Hands' Initiative, the African Union Commission and its partners seek to recognize the valiant efforts of African humanitarian heroes and heroines by providing a platform for illuminating their efforts. The campaign will recognize those who have made a difference in their local, national and regional communities.

Helping Hands speaks to the African tradition and humanist philosophy of Ubuntu- that one is because of others, and that responding to distress is not a duty but the natural reaction of human beings. Helping Hands will showcase stories and projects by Africans and the African Diaspora that have made great impact in their communities. It is an opportunity to give Africans the chance to tell their story – not only to raise awareness about the great humanitarian work that they have been doing to uplift communities but also to inspire future generations to emulate innovative and exciting approaches to making a difference.

Join us on 19 August 2013 in commemorating World Humanitarian Day by lending a helping hand to alleviate suffering. Get in touch and tell us about your experiences or a story that inspired you, before World Humanitarian Day through:

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/AfricaHumanHub

• E-mail: africashelpinghands@gmail.com

• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/African-Humanitarian-Hub/396278090481567

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.