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World Humanitarian Day
19 August

2010 Observance



Secretary-General's Message

On World Humanitarian Day, we renew our commitment to life-saving relief efforts — and remember those who died while serving this noble cause.

People who have lived through terrible events are often left with nothing.

No family; no food; no shelter; no job.

Not even a passport or ID paper.


Humanitarian workers help them get back on their feet to restart their lives.

Aid workers are the envoys we send to show our solidarity with suffering.

They represent what is best in human nature.  But their work is dangerous.

Often, they venture to some of the most perilous places on earth.

And often, they pay a heavy price.  Harassment and intimidation.  Kidnapping and even murder.

January’s earthquake in Haiti was a humanitarian catastrophe for the country.

It also had a devastating impact on aid workers.

The United Nations lost some of its most dedicated staff on that day.

On World Humanitarian Day, let us remember those in need…

Those who have fallen while trying to help them…

And those who continue to give aid, undeterred by the dangers they face — for the sake of building a safer, better world.

Ban Ki-moon

UNFPA Executive Director

Message of Thoraya Ahmed Obaid
UNFPA Executive Director
19 August 2010

Today, on World Humanitarian Day, UNFPA pays tribute to humanitarian aid workers who risk their lives to save the lives of others. In the past 10 years, aid workers have come under increasing fire as they strive to provide assistance and support to individuals and communities affected by crisis.

Since January, UNFPA has responded to multiple emergencies including the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, conflict in Kyrgyzstan and floods in West Africa and Pakistan.  Since women continue to get pregnant and give birth during these crises, we work to provide reproductive health services because no woman should die giving life. Together with partners, UNFPA works to ensure safe motherhood, prevent HIV infection and prevent and respond to gender-based violence.   

Protecting the right to sexual and reproductive health is fundamental to human security and to humanitarian and development assistance. Just as good humanitarian work paves the way for recovery and stability, good development work builds strong communities, infrastructure and institutions to build resilience and ease the impact of crisis when it occurs.

Today, my colleagues and I call for increased protection and respect for humanitarian aid workers. We also urge closer cooperation between the humanitarian and development communities to promote human security and dignity in all phases of crisis, response, transition and recovery. 

Today, I salute all colleagues who have worked hard to support individuals and communities in emergencies and I pay tribute to all colleagues who have perished in the line of duty to ensure humanitarian relief.

WHO Action in Health Crises Assistant Director-General

Statement by Dr. Eric Laroche
Assistant Director-General, Health Action in Crises
19 August 2010, Geneva

Today as we celebrate World Humanitarian Day, I want to pay tribute to the dedication and commitment of so many people around that world who work tirelessly in crisis situations, often under difficult and insecure conditions, to address the health needs of the most vulnerable to save lives, minimize suffering and provide urgently needed health services.

I have witnessed firsthand the awe-inspiring humanitarian spirit demonstrated by efforts at the community, national and international levels to help affected populations in such situations. The current crisis in Pakistan demonstrates the important work of humanitarians who are working around the clock to fight disease and reduce suffering.

Conflict situations and the increase of natural disasters will continue to create emergencies that require humanitarian action. So, today, in solidarity, we bring the world's focus to those in crises who need help and we thank those who work with them to provide care and relief.

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