World Humanitarian Day on August 19 honors humanitarian aid workers all over the world. Established by the UN in 2009, this day commemorates the anniversary of the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Iraq. 22 people lost their lives, including the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Humanitarian aid workers provide life-saving assistance to suffering people all over the world. Those workers who live in conflict zones or in areas devastated by natural disasters are especially vulnerable. Anyone and everyone can be a humanitarian, so read on to learn more about the day and how you can help.
How to Observe World Humanitarian Day
Donate to a humanitarian organization
There are humanitarian organizations all over the world in need of resources. If you are able to donate your time to one of these organizations, that’s wonderful. If you can’t, a monetary donation would go a long way in supplementing workers' resources to help suffering communities. Search online for organizations doing humanitarian work, or go directly to the UN’s World Humanitarian Day website for resources to get you started.
Do some humanitarian work in your community
Being a humanitarian doesn’t have to mean traveling to a war zone — the point of humanitarian aid is to alleviate people’s suffering and maintain human dignity. There may be plenty of options for you to do just that close to home. Try volunteering at a homeless shelter, a nursing home, a hospital or a place that serves underprivileged children.
Contact your elected leaders
Call, email or send a tweet to let your elected leaders know how important humanitarian crises are to you. Ask them to commit to any number of actions to help bolster humanitarian causes in the areas that are near and dear to your heart.
Why World Humanitarian Day is Important
It celebrates unsung heroes
Humanitarian aid workers are some of the most heroic and honorable people alive, putting themselves in harm's way by traveling to conflict zones and disaster areas to help alleviate the suffering of strangers. Despite this great work, these workers are rarely acknowledged publicly, sometimes for their own safety. World Humanitarian Day is a sobering reminder of how many lives have been lost in the name of this valiant cause, as well as a celebration of the workers currently doing this necessary but often, dangerous work.
It highlights the need for humanitarian work
As an occupation, “humanitarian aid worker” isn’t an extremely popular profession. Simply put, there can never be enough humanitarian aid workers out there. Every year, millions of people need humanitarian assistance as a result of disasters both natural and man-made. World Humanitarian Day reminds us of the increasing need for humanitarian workers who can give selflessly of their time.
It’s an international event
A big part of World Humanitarian Day is drawing importance to the need for international cooperation on humanitarian issues. Humanitarian aid workers might be helping people in their home countries, or they might be dispatched to help those in need elsewhere. International cooperation is essential to maintaining the safety of humanitarian aid workers while enabling them to help those who suffer.