Over the last 10 years, the amount of humanitarian workers that have been killed in the line of duty is staggering. Over 700 people have been killed while bringing assistance to the less fortunate. To honour the service of these people the UN have designated the date of August 19th as World Humanitarian Day. This day was chosen for a specific reason. In the 2003 a horrific attack took place in the UN headquarters in Iraq. This attack killed 22 humanitarians and injured many more. One of the victims was the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Iraq. The anniversary date of this tragic bombing was chosen as WHD.
Natural disasters cause widespread devastation where ever they hit. The problem is multiplied when they hit the poorest countries that are unable to respond to the needs of its people. The most vulnerable in society are affected the worst. It is the task of the humanitarian to provide the life saving assistance that is so badly needed in the affected countries. The response is always the same. It does not matter what community is affected, there is no discrimination in supplying relief to those that need it.
The majority of humanitarian workers come from the countries in which they work. Strong, professional and independent local partners are fully involved in all humanitarian responses. Humanitarian aid workers are national and international, male and female, and reflect all cultures, ideologies and backgrounds.
The view many people have is that humanitarian assistance is a ‘Western’ intervention. In the poor countries where these natural disasters have the worst effect, this has resulted in an increase in violent attacks on humanitarians. These people are there to help and this violence is not helping the matter. The founding principles of the humanitarian movement are neutrality, impartiality, humanity, and independence. It is important that all humanitarian workers are given the respect they deserve. They provide vital assistance and should be praised not hurt for their efforts.
Hazards such as floods and droughts become disasters when people are vulnerable because of poverty. Action Aid takes a proactive and holistic approach to emergencies and conflict, working with communities and partners to prepare for, and cope with, the impacts of disasters, lobbying authorities and governments to protect people’s rights to freedom from fear and want and to be able to take action on their own behalf.
Related Humanitarian Articles