The sound of bagpipes echoed in the chapel at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture as guests gathered to commemorate humanitarian workers killed and injured in the line of duty, while honoring those who continue to work tirelessly to provide life-saving support to people most in need.
The event commenced with the UN Secretary General’s message read by Louise Aubin, UNHCR representative and Acting Director of UNIC followed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) message delivered by the Head of ICRC Leonard Blazeby. The representative from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Clare Walsh acknowledged the work of millions of women humanitarians who have and still are changing lives across the globe.
Keeping in line with the theme of the day – to salute women humanitarians, their work, experiences and stories, the event was adorned by three powerful women panelist – Sradda Thapa from International Organisation for Migration, Bina D’Costa from the Australian National University and Caelin Briggs from World Vision Australia – who worked in different humanitarian sectors in various countries and shared their experiences, challenges, motivation and expertise. Moderator Louise Aubin, herself a very experienced humanitarian field operation a thoughtful and interesting question and answer session ensued.
“A moving tribute was also made by Monica Salvitti from UN World Food Programme for her colleague and friend, Jennifer Anne Downes, an Australian humanitarian worker who suddenly and tragically passed away in Suva, Fiji in July 2019. Wreaths were laid before the image of the Humanitarian Memorial for Jennifer in the presence of her family who were attending the event. Jenna’s own words, “It’s never a 50 percent effort; you have to live and breathe it, you have to believe in it”, continues to resonate.
United Nations Information Centre in partnership between International Organisation for Migration, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Committee of the Red Cross, Australian Council for International Development and Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the World Humanitarian Day on 19 August 2019, at the Chapel in the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture.