Today is World Humanitarian Day, turn words into aid!

World Humanitarian Day 2013This year the UN and its humanitarian partners are launching a ground-breaking campaign called The world needs more… This is a first-of-its-kind project that will quite literally turn words into aid. World Humanitarian Day is a time to recognize those who face danger and adversity in order to help others. The day was designated by the General Assembly to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. 19 August, 2013 marks 10 years since that tragic event, which claimed 22 lives.

This year, the international community will pause to remember those who died, as well as the dozens of aid workers, who have died in the years since. But World Humanitarian Day is also an opportunity to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the globe.

In December 2008, the sixty-third session of the UN General Assembly decided to designate 19 August as World Humanitarian Day.

19 August is the date on which a brutal terrorist attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad in 2003 killed 22 people, including UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

World Humanitarian Day honours those, who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and those, who continue to bring assistance and relief to millions.

The Day also seeks to draw attention to humanitarian needs worldwide and the importance of international cooperation in meeting these needs.

Every year, disasters cause immense suffering for millions of people – usually the world’s poorest, most marginalized and vulnerable individuals.

Humanitarian aid workers strive to provide life-saving assistance and long term rehabilitation to disaster-affected communities, regardless of where they are in the world and without discrimination based on nationality, social group, religion, sex, race or any other factor.

Humanitarian aid is based on a number of founding principles, including humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. Humanitarian aid workers should be respected, and be able to access those in need in order to provide vital assistance.

Humanitarian aid workers can be international, but most come from the country in which they work. They reflect all cultures, ideologies and backgrounds and they are united by their commitment to humanitarianism.

Everyone can be a humanitarian. People affected by disasters are often the first to help their own communities following a disaster.

Responding to emergencies is only one aspect of humanitarian work. Humanitarian workers also support communities 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.

Secretary-General’s Message for 2013

Every year on August 19th, we mark World Humanitarian Day in honour of aid workers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

We commemorate their sacrifice and reaffirm our commitment to the life-saving work that humanitarians carry out around the world, every day, often in difficult and dangerous circumstances where others cannot or do not want to go.

This year’s commemoration marks the 10th anniversary of the attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad that killed Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 other United Nations colleagues and partners. That tragedy was among the inspirations for this Day.

Sergio was a vocal advocate of the values and mission of the United Nations. He touched the lives of all who met him, and helped millions of poor and vulnerable people in a life of service on several continents. His death was a great loss to the United Nations, but his legacy has motivated many people to pursue humanitarian work.

This year, our World Humanitarian Day campaign is calling on people to answer a question: What do you think the world needs more of? I urge people everywhere to go to and tell us, in one word, what you think.

My word is “teamwork.” In a time of global challenges, people and countries need to work together in common cause for peace, justice, dignity and development. That is the humanitarian spirit. That is the humanitarian imperative of the United Nations.

Learn more about the Day.