New York

18 August 2015

Secretary-General remarks at event to commemorate World Humanitarian Day

I am very pleased to be with you today.

Each year, on World Humanitarian Day, we honour the selfless dedication and sacrifice of those who devote themselves – often at great personal risk – to assisting the world’s most vulnerable people.

The General Assembly designated World Humanitarian Day to mark the anniversary of the bomb attack in Baghdad that took the lives of 22 people, including our colleague, the great humanitarian, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Today we remember Sergio and all the humanitarian aid workers who have given their lives helping others.

These workers and volunteers from around the world remind us of our common humanity – and our duty to support those who need us most.

Today more than 100 million women and men, children and adolescents require life-saving humanitarian assistance. 

Each has a unique and heart-rending story.  Each hopes for a better future.

Some are victims of natural disasters.  Others are fleeing violence and persecution.

Not since the Second World War have so many people been displaced by conflict.

The families and communities struggling to survive in today’s emergencies do so with resilience and dignity. 

They need and deserve our solidarity.

Each one of us can make a difference.

Each of us has the power – and the responsibility – to help create a more humane world.

On this World Humanitarian Day I urge everyone to show solidarity as global citizens by signing up to the ShareHumanity campaign. 

Help us to share moving stories of hope and resilience from around the world.

Help us to inspire new heights of humanitarian awareness and action.

I would like to thank our wonderful performers this evening:

Inna Modja, from Mali.

Juanes, from Colombia.

Cody Simpson, from Australia.

Thank you for dedicating your great talents to this great cause.

I would also like to thank, and highly commend the leadership of, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr. Stephen O’Brien, and all our humanitarian partners who are organizing events around the world to commemorate World Humanitarian Day.

As you may know, Mr. O’Brien has just arrived two hours ago after having visited Yemen and Syria and many other places where the humanitarian situations are very dire. I again highly commend his leadership. Let’s applaud his leadership.

As we celebrate tonight, I also ask you to look ahead to the first ever World Humanitarian Summit, next May, in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Summit will focus world attention on how we can better reduce risk, build resilience and meet the needs of millions of people affected by conflict, disaster and crisis.

I expect Heads of State and Government, and leaders from civil society and private sector, crisis-affected communities and multilateral organizations to announce bold new ideas to help set the course of humanitarian action for years and decades to come.

The Summit will also reinforce the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and our global commitment to end poverty and leave no-one behind.

I count on the support of all sectors of society to make the World Humanitarian Summit a great success. 

I know you are all as pained as I am by the suffering in so many places across the world.

We see systemic brutality against women and girls… indiscriminate bomb attacks on civilians… migrants facing exploitation and mortal danger as they undertake desperate journeys in search of a better life. 

And all the while, repressive governance continues in too many places.

Indifference among those with the power to make a difference leaves too many people without hope.

World Humanitarian Day is a day on which we express our determination not just to empathize but to engage.  

In this year in which we mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, let us reaffirm our commitment to unite our strength to fulfil our shared humanitarian imperative. 

Let us work to make this a better [world] for all. I thank you for your commitment and engagement.

Thank you.