New York, 19 August 2010 - Secretary-General's remarks at ceremony marking World Humanitarian DayExcellencies, Sir John Holmes, Ladies and Gentlemen, and Noble humanitarians,
We just had a brief but very solemn ceremony remembering our fallen colleagues seven years ago in Baghdad. They are not the only ones, unfortunately. We have lost so many colleagues, so many humanitarian workers. Our thoughts are always with those heroic colleagues who have given their lives in the cause of humanity.
Pakistan. Somalia. Sudan. Haiti.
Every day, in every corner of the world where people live in fear or desperation, we are there.
Today, on World Humanitarian Day, we renew our pledge.
In times of crisis, to do our utmost, to save lives, to offer hope, to be there for those in need during their darkest hour.
Today, we also remember.
We remember those who died serving this noble cause, and we honour them.
This is our calling.
Those swept up by disaster, those who survive the most terrible events, are often left with nothing.
No family; no food; no medicines, no shelter; no job.
No ID or passport.
Humanitarian workers help them get back on their feet. They help restart their lives.
They are the face of the best that is within us, acting in solidarity with those who are suffering.
We know the work is dangerous.
Often, they go boldly where others fear to tread.
Increasingly, they risk harassment and intimidation, kidnapping or even death.
Last January, in Haiti, the United Nations lost many of its finest, and best, brave humanitarians who served around the world.
This month, in Afghanistan, ten health care workers were brutally murdered, men and women who sought only to help the people of Afghanistan.
This week, in Pakistan, I met people, many people, who have lost everything - homes, families and livelihoods.
Their hardship is on a scale I have never seen before. Words cannot describe what I have seen, what I have felt while being in Pakistan.
It requires a response to match.
It is not easy to mount a relief operation of such scope in so difficult an environment.
Yet we are doing so.
We are reaching those in need, whatever the obstacles.
Today, on World Humanitarian Day, let us remember the many millions of the world's people, living in such hardship in so many places, people who look to us for help.
Today, let us honour those who have fallen in the name of this noble cause.
They are an army of peace, bearing the torch of hope.
They are the unsung heroes, the international aid workers, relief specialists, doctors and nurses and so many others.
They work, day in and day out, undeterred by dangers and difficulties, to build a safer, better world for all.
We owe them our thanks, and our greatest admiration.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In closing, let us also take this opportunity to bid a fond farewell to Sir John Holmes.
In his time here, this fine Humanitarian-in-chief of the United Nations has confronted some of the greatest crises the United Nations has ever faced.
He has shown a spotlight on forgotten places and crises, and he has shone in the public glare of the disasters that make headlines.
Everywhere, he has used his vast political skills and his moral authority to make a difference to people's lives.
And everywhere, he will be missed. I wish you all the best and thank you very much for your contribution and dedication in the name of humanity.
And thank you very much, Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you very much.
Statements on 19 August 2010
- New York, 19 August 2010 - Secretary-General's remarks to General Assembly meeting on "Strengthening of the Coordination of Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance of the United Nations, including Special Economic Assistance"
- New York, 19 August 2010 - Secretary-General's message on World Humanitarian Day