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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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New York, 19 August 2013 - Secretary-General's message for World Humanitarian Day

Every year on August 19th, we mark World Humanitarian Day in honour of aid workers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

We commemorate their sacrifice and reaffirm our commitment to the life-saving work that humanitarians carry out around the world, every day, often in difficult and dangerous circumstances where others cannot or do not want to go.

This year’s commemoration marks the 10th anniversary of the attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad that killed Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 other United Nations colleagues and partners.  That tragedy was among the inspirations for this Day.

Sergio was a vocal advocate of the values and mission of the United Nations.  He touched the lives of all who met him, and helped millions of poor and vulnerable people in a life of service on several continents.  His death was a great loss to the United Nations, but his legacy has motivated many people to pursue humanitarian work.

This year, our World Humanitarian Day campaign is calling on people to answer a question: What do you think the world needs more of?  I urge people everywhere to go to www.worldhumanitarianday.org and tell us, in one word, what you think.

My word is “teamwork.”  In a time of global challenges, people and countries need to work together in common cause for peace, justice, dignity and development.  That is the humanitarian spirit.  That is the humanitarian imperative of the United Nations.


Statements on 19 August 2013