World Humanitarian Day 2011

From New York to Bangkok, World Humanitarian Day 2011 was commemorated worldwide on 19 August. The international community celebrated aid workers’ efforts and paid tribute to those aid workers who lost their lives in the course of duty.

The launch event for World Humanitarian Day 2011 was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. At the event, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated: “Wherever there are people in need, there are people who help them – men and women coming together to ease suffering and bring hope.”

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, and the UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, also spoke at the event. They commended aid workers worldwide, and called on the world to urgently scale up the response to the Horn of Africa crisis.

The event also saw the unveiling of the exclusive World Humanitarian Day song “If I Could Change” and the accompanying music video. The song is a collaboration between global artists including Ziggy Marley, Somali sister-duo Sweet Rush, and Salman Ahmad from the Pakistani band Junoon. Grammy-award-winning producer Jerry Wonda produced the song.

The Campaign

World Humanitarian Day 2011 aimed to help build the World Humanitarian Day brand, and reach new and younger audiences through traditional and new media channels.

This year saw the development of a new Web platform, the introduction of a social-media contest (which received over 650 video entries in just three weeks), a series of humanitarian aid worker stories, a safety-and-security film, and the flagship song and music video.

The song and other World Humanitarian Day 2011 films have been viewed over 100,000 times on video-sharing platforms, with over 93,000 visits to the World Humanitarian Day website alone during the campaign period. Campaign content and messaging also reached 11.2 million people via Twitter.

World Humanitarian Day films were, and continue to be, played on the Kodak screen at Times Square in New York City. The films are also played on television networks around the world, including MTV and CNN, and on radio stations, buses and trams in Europe. Artist Beyoncé also provided a track from her new album to commemorate the day.

Commemorations worldwide

Across the world, UN agencies, local and international NGOs, Governments, academia and the public came together to celebrate aid workers under this year's common theme “People Helping People”.

The international community in Geneva marked the day with public events, a panel discussion on the humanitarian crisis in Somalia and a concert. At an event hosted by Concern Worldwide in Ireland, aid workers spoke about working in some of the world’s poorest countries. In Australia, AusAID hosted a panel discussion on pressing humanitarian issues.

World Humanitarian Day was widely celebrated in Africa. For example, ActionAid Liberia hosted a women’s radio talk show, while in Uganda a public event attended by thousands of scouts marked the day.

In Asia, a commemorative event was held at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand. In Yangon, Myanmar, more than 200 representatives from national and international NGOs, UN agencies and the Government of Myanmar attended a World Humanitarian Day ceremony.

Events also took place throughout Latin America. Academic events in Colombia focused on the quality of humanitarian assistance, and in Panama the humanitarian community came together to organize an exposition highlighting humanitarian concerns. In Haiti, a range of events took place including a live radio debate, a humanitarian radio quiz and a humanitarian television programme.

Commemorations were also held in the Philippines, England, the Central African Republic, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Equador, Chile, Guatemala, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

For further details about World Humanitarian Day and ways to get involved, visit the official website: worldhumanitarianday.info.