Messages for 2020

Secretary-General's message 

On World Humanitarian Day we honour the work of humanitarians who overcome huge challenges to save and improve the lives of millions of people.

These real-life heroes are doing extraordinary things in extraordinary times to help women, men and children whose lives are upended by crises.

This year, humanitarian workers are stretched like never before.

They are responding to the global crisis of COVID-19, and with it the massive increase in humanitarian needs from the fallout of the pandemic.

The loss of jobs, education, food, water and safety is pushing millions more to the brink.

Movement restrictions to slow the spread of the virus have meant that communities, civil society and local organizations – as so often before – are the very first responders.

This year, we celebrate them: people who are often in need themselves, like refugees helping host communities, local health workers who care for the sick and vaccinate children, and humanitarians who negotiate access in areas of conflict to bring food, water and medicine.

They are the unsung heroes of the pandemic response – and they all too often risk their own lives to save the lives of others.

Today, join me in renewing our appreciation and support for the brave humanitarians, health workers and first responders who show solidarity and humanity in this time of unprecedented need.

General Assembly President's message

On this World Humanitarian Day, I want to salute the real-world heroes - the courageous women and men who deliver life-saving support like shelter assistance and livelihoods, essential health, food and water, hygiene and sanitation to the most vulnerable.

As humanitarians and front-line workers, they support individuals and communities in the fight against poverty, injustice and hopelessness, while safeguarding fundamental human rights of populations displaced by war and conflict.

They are “the first to respond and the last to leave” accepting the risks of being threatened, injured, kidnapped and killed.

Violence against aid workers has become a major concern for most humanitarian agencies. At the same time, compliance with international humanitarian law is deteriorating. In 2019, 483 attacks were committed against aid workers. These are the highest numbers ever recorded.

The global need for humanitarian aid remains huge. Many humanitarian crises are ongoing or worsening - whether in conflict situations or due to natural disasters.

In 2020, despite the largest-ever funding shortfall, humanitarian workers have contended with COVID-19, as well as a massive spike in humanitarian needs in 63 countries. As the world fights the pandemic, we honour those who have lost their lives in humanitarian service.

The recent tragedy in Lebanon is an example of the ever-increasing need for humanitarian assistance and support, especially to the most vulnerable. The horrific images from Beirut are a constant reminder that humanitarian assistance must remain at the core of our global response mechanisms.

Furthermore, women, young girls and children remain the most vulnerable groups, and must always be prioritized in any development assistance. We must use this occasion to reflect on how to best work together to save the world from actions that put all of us at the precipice of devastation.   

Today, we shine a light on all humanitarians who continue to help vulnerable populations in the most extreme circumstances.

Thank you again for your tireless efforts and your humanity.

You are our real-life heroes!