Fiji: Suva launches global humanitarian campaign
Suva was the first city in the world to celebrate World Humanitarian Day (19 August) and the first of dozens of cities to launch “The World Needs More__” – an innovative, global campaign designed to turn words into real, tangible assistance for people affected by humanitarian crises.
The launch took place at the University of the South Pacific (USP) with a panel discussion on ‘Humanitarian action in the Pacific’. Greg Grimsich from the OCHA Regional Office for the Pacific (ROP) talked about how humanitarian organizations are supporting Pacific Island governments in disaster response and Vuli Gauna, from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies discussed the importance of humanitarianism at the grassroots level, as individuals and communities are often the first responders in a disaster.
In his opening address to USP students, OCHA Head of Office, Sune Gudnitz, said “The Pacific is one of the world’s most susceptible regions to natural disasters, and World Humanitarian Day reminds us to pay tribute to aid workers from UN agencies, the Red Cross, civil society organizations and local communities who provide assistance to people in crisis.”
‘The World Needs More__’ campaign enables leading global brands to sponsor a word they believe the world could use more of. Between 19 August and 24 September, people can “unlock” money pledged by these brands by sharing sponsored words on the campaign website or through social media networks.
Sharing words of action
World Humanitarian Day was also promoted at Suva’s largest annual event, the Hibiscus Festival. OCHA staff and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Pacific Youth Volunteers were on hand at the UN stall to promote the campaign and engage with young people about the work of humanitarians around the world. Over 120 people queued up at the stall to access the campaign website and share their word of action through Facebook.
Events were held in more than 50 cities around the world to celebrate World Humanitarian Day. In New York, families of those killed in the 2003 Iraq bombing –remembered each year on World Humanitarian Day - attended an event hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and in Rio de Janeiro, the Government of Brazil arranged a series of events to celebrate the legacy of Sérgio Vieira de Mello who was killed in the Baghdad attack.
Elsewhere, events included an academic debate in Colombia, the awarding of an humanitarian prize in Madagascar, the hosting of fairs and photo exhibits in Mali and Pakistan, and even humanitarian-themed races, flash mobs and soccer tournaments in Panama, Thailand and Côte d’Ivoire respectively.
World Humanitarian Day was initiated in 2008 by the UN General Assembly to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian work and to honour aid workers and their organizations that support tens of millions of people who have been affected by war, disaster or the crises that flow from poverty, inequality and underdevelopment.