In case you didn’t know, today, August 19, is the second annual World Humanitarian Day, a day of observance for those who have worked in the promotion of humanitarian causes and those who have lost their lives doing so.
According to The Aid Worker Security Database, 278 humanitarian aid workers were targeted or caught in the crossfire of security incidents last year, and 102 of them were killed. Theses incidents included kidnappings, suicide bombings, mob violence, and crossfire from ground combat.
These figures are a dramatic jump from 10 years ago.
An article published on Voice of America News claims that the upswing in violence toward humanitarian workers is based on the perception that all humanitarian aid is carried out by Western organizations looking to push an agenda when, in reality, many humanitarian workers are local citizens working in conjunction with organizations more concerned with helping those in need than taking sides.
The U.N. flag seems no longer able to protect humanitarians from violence. Earlier this month, ten medical volunteers were killed in an attack in Afghanistan. In fact, World Humanitarian Day was founded to remember fallen humanitarian workers in the wake of the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad on this day 7 years ago.
A video created by the 2010 World Humanitarian Day project (see below), celebrates humanitarian workers in over 40 countries and shows just how wide their reach extends. Shot in under 9 weeks, the video is a must see for anyone who thinks they definitely know what being a humanitarian really means.
Chances are, it can mean so much more than you thought.
To put it in the words of Melissa Rowley of the What Gives?! blog, “Look around. People you know are in your community and around the world providing aid and comfort to those in need. Think of them on Thursday. Drop them an email. Give them a call. Say thank you. And ask how you can help.”
All figures and statistics, as well as more information about World Humanitarian Day, can be found here.
What is your definition of a humanitarian? Have your say in the comments.