World Humanitarian Day

Aug 19, 2020

On this World Humanitarian Day, I want to salute the real-life 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!