human figures running while consumed by shades of red (global warming) and shades of blue (tsunami as a climate change phenomenon).  ©Sadek Ahmed
"The Human Race", an illustration depicting human figures running while consumed by shades of red (global warming) and shades of blue (tsunami as a climate change phenomenon).
Photo:©Sadek Ahmed

#TheHumanRace

A global challenge for climate action in solidarity with the people who need it most

The climate emergency is wreaking havoc across the world at a scale that people on the front lines and in the humanitarian community cannot manage. Time is already running out for the world’s most vulnerable people — those who have contributed least to the global climate emergency yet are hit the hardest — and millions of others that are already losing their homes, their livelihoods, and their lives.

With most climate campaigns focused on slowing climate change and securing the planet’s future, World Humanitarian Day 2021, will highlight the immediate consequences of the climate emergency for the world’s most vulnerable people and ensure that their voices are heard, and their needs top the agenda at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November.

Therefore, everyone is invited to join #TheHumanRace, which is the global challenge for climate action in solidarity with people who need it the most; and to put the needs of climate-vulnerable people front and centre at the UN climate summit (COP26).

WHD 2021 logo

Share online!

Stand in solidarity with the world's most vulnerable people by using these hashtags in your social media activities #TheHumanRace #WorldHumanitarianDay

Providing life-saving support during the pandemic

On World Humanitarian Day (WHD) August 19, the world commemorates humanitarian workers killed and injured in the course of their work, and we honour all aid and health workers who continue, despite the odds, to provide life-saving support and protection to people most in need.

This year World Humanitarian Day comes as the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic over recent months. Aid workers are overcoming unprecedented access hurdles to assist people in humanitarian crises in 54 countries, as well as in a further nine countries which have been catapulted into humanitarian need by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This day was designated in memory of the 19 August 2003 bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, killing 22 people, including the chief humanitarian in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly formalized the day as World Humanitarian Day.

Support our #RealLifeHeroes this World Humanitarian Day

It is true that our obsession with myths and legends has been with us since the dawn of culture. Their fictional fantastic feats, embodied enemies, and arduous journeys teach us how to dream big and summon the courage needed to do what’s right.

However, the heroes of our world, here and now, are just as worthy of admiration and celebration because they’re real — they’re real: choosing to help in the most extreme circumstances — and their stories show that real life heroes exhibit an uncanny ability to persevere despite the odds, and to do so with humility and dedication.

 

Share the WHD film

to launch and promote the campaign

 

Help spread the word

across your social channels and challenge your followers to join

 

Get your influencers

to add their voices and to speak about the issue

 

Contribute campaign content

to highlight the human cost of the climate crisis for the microsite

Facts & Figures

  • In 2020, 475 aid workers were attacked: 108 killed, 242 wounded and 125 kidnapped.
  • Travel and movement restrictions for international staff (due to Covid-19) may partly explain why the proportion of national aid worker victims in 2020 was even higher than usual (95%).
  • Most of the violence took place in South Sudan, Syria, and DRC. Other high incident contexts included Central African Republic and Mali, where incidents more than doubled since 2018.
  • 2020 marked the first time in 20 years that Afghanistan was not one of the top five most violent contexts for aid workers.
  • Attacks against aid workers in Tigray of Ethiopia rose during 2020 and has been worsening further in 2021.

Additional Resources

Documents

Related websites

 Medical equipment is loaded into an aircraft in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as part of a UN “Solidarity Flight” to deliver supplies to African countries fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the purposes of the United Nations, as stated in its Charter, is "to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character."  The UN first did this in the aftermath of the Second World War on the devastated continent of Europe, which it helped to rebuild.  The Organization is now relied upon by the international community to coordinate humanitarian relief operations due to natural and man-made disasters in areas beyond the relief capacity of national authorities alone.

A woman sitting on the ground inside a tent.

In 2021, 235 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection. This number has risen to 1 in 33 people worldwide - a significant increase from 1 in 45 at the launch of the Global Humanitarian Overview 2020, which was already the highest figure in decades. The UN and partner organizations aim to assist 160 million people most in need across 56 countries and will require a total of $35 billion to do so.

A crowd of women sitting and laughing

International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.