World Humanitarian Day
19 August 2017
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.
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.