World Humanitarian Day: We Can Each Make A Difference

New York, N.Y.  On the eve of World Humanitarian Day, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is drawing attention to the 100 million people affected by natural disasters, conflict, hunger and disease, whose needs are far outstripping the capacity to help them, but he is also reminding the international community that “each one of us can make a difference” and “create a more humane world.”

NYHQ2015-1007A UNICEF worker speaks to a child seeking temporary shelter at a vacant field
next to Nepal’s army HQ in Kathmandu following Nepal’s massive earthquake.
Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2015-1007/Nybo.

“On this Day we also celebrate our common humanity,” Mr. Ban said in a message on the Day, which is marked annually on 19 August.

“The families and communities struggling to survive in today’s emergencies do so with resilience and dignity. They need and deserve our renewed commitment to do all we can to provide them with the means for a better future.”

In a recent interview with the UN News Centre, Stephen O’Brien, the newly appointed Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, echoed that sentiment, stressing that, as part of the global team, the UN seeks to deliver humanitarian assistance to meet the fundamental basic needs of saving lives and of making sure the recipients can live without vulnerability.

“The impact of this should give the affected people dignity, opportunities to grow resilience to avoid a repeat cycle of fear and security for families, communities and lives,” he explained, adding: “At the end of the day, every life saved is an achievement in itself. That takes a huge number of people working together and the political will and determination of the world.”

Mr. O’Brien and Mr. Ban are joining other top officials of the UN system with an appeal for people around the world to join a global digital storytelling campaign designed by the United Nations and partners to mark World Humanitarian Day 2015 by drastically changing their social media feeds and share captivating tales of humanitarian heroism.

Last week, Australian singer Cody Simpson, Chinese martial artist Jet Li, British media mogul Richard Branson and Brazilian footballer Kaká launched the UN #ShareHumanity campaign.

Mr. Simpson is among the participants, including humanitarian workers, media innovators and celebrity musicians taking the stage tonight at a major event at UN Headquarters in New York.

The Secretary-General will make remarks and he will be followed by Mr. Simpson, Colombian music start Juanes, Malian-French singer Inna Modja, and many others.

In his message on the Day, Mr. Ban urges everyone to show solidarity as global citizens by signing up to the #ShareHumanity campaign. “By donating your social media feeds for just one day you can promote humanitarian action and help to give a voice to the voiceless by sharing their stories of crisis, hope and resilience.”

August 19 marks the anniversary of the 2003 UN headquarters bombing in Baghdad that claimed the lives of 22 people, including UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello. In an effort to raise awareness of humanitarian assistance worldwide – and the people who risk their lives to provide it – the UN General Assembly in 2008 designated August 19 as World Humanitarian Day.

Tomorrow at Headquarters, a wreath-laying ceremony will commemorate the 12th anniversary of the Baghdad bombing.

Also tomorrow, at the at the Palais des Nations in Geneva – home of the UN Office and often cited as the humanitarian capital of the world because of the number of the number of humanitarian organizations based in the Swiss city – a commemoration to acknowledge humanitarian workers who have lost their lives in the line of duty will be among the events held on the seventh World Day.

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is mourning and cherishing colleagues in South Sudan who disappeared without a trace and “pay tribute to the many in WFP and across the humanitarian community selflessly striving day in, day out, to meet the pressing needs of the vulnerable, hungry poor in hotspots around the world.”,P>

“With 80 per cent of humanitarian work now in countries and regions affected by conflict, the task of giving life-saving assistance is increasingly, for too many colleagues, life-threatening,” WFP said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a campaign called #ThanksHealthHero to pay tribute to the contributions and sacrifices of health workers worldwide in particular those who respond to humanitarian crises.

Between World Humanitarian Day and the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016, WHO said it will be profiling their stories worldwide and “want to collect as many thank you tributes as possible which will be featured at the first ever global summit on humanitarian issues, set to take place in Istanbul, Turkey.

Secretary-General Ban said the Summit will provide a platform for Heads of State and Government and leaders from civil society, the private sector, crisis-affected communities and multilateral organizations to announce bold new partnerships and initiatives that will vastly reduce suffering and at the same time reinforce the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

“Each one of us can make a difference,” Mr. Ban said. “In a world that is ever more digitally connected, each of us has the power and responsibility to inspire our fellow human beings to act to help others and create a more humane world.”

The Editors
The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness is the communications platform of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation ( There are now more than 100 contributors around the world to this publication.

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