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Third World Humanitarian Day pays tribute to "People Helping People"

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Every year, humanitarian disasters cause immense suffering for millions of people – usually the world’s poorest, most marginalized and vulnerable individuals. And every year, Humanitarian aid workers, men and women from all cultures and backgrounds strive and risk their lives to ease suffering and bring hope to affected communities. In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly decided to establish a World Humanitarian Day to pay tribute to humanitarian aid worker. The WHD is celebrated on 19 August.

“Aid workers help people who have lost their homes, loved ones and sources of income.They also draw the world closer together by reminding us that we are one family, sharing the same dream sfor a peaceful planet, where all people can live in safety, and with dignity”, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said today.

Humanitarian aid is based on a number of founding principles, including humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence.From Japan to Côte d’Ivoire, from Pakistan to the Horn of Africa, from Haiti to Sahel, aid workers work in difficult or dangerous environments to provide life-saving assistance and long term rehabilitation to disaster-affected communities,without discrimination.Over the last ten years, 780 aid workers were killed throughout the world. They were assassinated, killed in ambush or by mines or other explosive devices: hundreds more were abducted or aggressed. Refusing weapons, aid workers want to work in safety.

Humanitarian aid workers want to be able to access those in need in order to provide vital assistance. This wish should be respected.

The majority of aid workers come from the countries in which they work. People affected by disasters are the first to help their own communities following a disaster. Communities, local partner organizations, international organizations and the general public can build a chain of solidarity to support communities in responding to and recovering from disasters. Everyone can be a humanitarian actor.

Today, the most pressing humanitarian crisis in the world is unfolding in the Horn of Africa. Famine has spread in Somalia and 12.4 million people in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti urgently need our help. Humanitarian partners continue to work hard on the ground to access people in danger and save lives. Their commitment must be matched by State donors, international organizations, the private sector and individuals alike.

A new humanitarian crisis does not mean previous crises are over. In Côte d’Ivoire and in neighbouring countries, a humanitarian crisis remains on-going.

Tens of thousands of persons remain displaced within Côte d’Ivoire, while more than 170,000 Ivorian are still refugees in Liberia. All of them need shelter and clothes to protect themselves from the rain, as well as medicine against malaria and water-borne diseases. Refugees, displaced persons and those who generously host them also need food, seeds and various non-food items. Children must be immunized and sent to school. Protection must be guaranteed to everyone, including against sexual and gender-based violence. While aid workers are on site, they need to be given adequate funding to do their work. Humanitarian appeals for these countries remain largely under-funded.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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