Every year, the UN recognises 19 August as World Humanitarian Day, and this year, the campaign is bringing everyone together to mark the 20th anniversary of the attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. This year’s campaign also focuses on the UN’s commitment to delivering aid and support to communities no matter who, no matter where, and #NoMatterWhat.
What happened on 19 August 2003?
The attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, killed 22 humanitarian aid workers and marked a shift in how humanitarians operated – from being respected members of society to being targeted. Humanitarians worldwide felt the impact of this attack, and change was needed. In 2009, the UNGA designated 19 August as World Humanitarian Day to recognise humanitarians while increasing public awareness about global humanitarian efforts and assistance.
The 2023 Theme: #NoMatterWhat
Each year, World Humanitarian Day focuses on a theme that brings together various humanitarian partners to advocate for the survival, well-being and dignity of people affected by crises, as well as for the safety of aid workers.
In the past, the WHD themes were It Takes a Village (2022), The Human Race, in solidarity with those most affected by climate change (2021), and Real Life Heroes (2020).
This year’s campaign is #NoMatterWhat. Humanitarian work is challenging and proven dangerous, but their work is always worth it. Humanitarians are committed to overcoming obstacles to deliver real and impactful aid to communities worldwide.
Over the last 20 years, the UN’s work has grown in scale and complexity, helping almost 250 million people – 10x more than in 2003. This growth also means operations require more money, an estimated US$55 billion. While these efforts are reaching more communities, the challenges and dangers the UN and humanitarian aid workers face are also increasing. Rising geopolitical tensions, disregard for international humanitarian law, and deliberate attacks and misinformation exist.
According to ReliefWeb, there are 274 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection.
The world needs support and aid, arguably more than ever, and we must celebrate and support those who have sacrificed and served these communities.
Today is an opportunity to celebrate, learn, grieve, and support humanitarians around the world.
How do we get involved?
- Learn about the history. Blogs like this are a great way to understand what we celebrate and why.
- Research the significant issues global communities are facing. It is neither possible nor realistic to know about (and do something about) every international problem. If you can find one topic you’re passionate about and dig deep, you can do so much good.
- Donating to humanitarian organisations is a great way to show your support if you have the financial means.
- Be a part of the change. Humanitarian work and aid don’t require us to move states or countries – you can make a difference in your local communities. Listening to our communities and offering practical and tangible support is essential. It’s also important that we are willing to learn and listen.
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*Information in this blog was gathered from the official UN website, here.