Save the date! Counting down to World Humanitarian Day

5 August, 2011
A doctor conducts medical screenings for displaced people in the Kamla camp in Nyala in South Darfur. December 2010. Credit: Albert Gonzalez Farran/UNAMID
A doctor conducts medical screenings for displaced people in the Kamla camp in Nyala in South Darfur. December 2010. Credit: Albert Gonzalez Farran/UNAMID

World Humanitarian Day (WHD) - a global celebration of people helping people - is fast approaching. Every year, on 19 August, WHD brings together UN agencies and over 500 and national and international NGOs in recognition of those that help millions around the world every day.

The UN Secretary-General traditionally launches the campaign and introduces a new WHD flagship film. The 2010 WHD film, for example, showcased the wide diversity of places, faces and endeavours of humanitarian aid workers.

This year, to inspire the spirit of aid work in everyone, a music video featuring Grammy-winning artists is in the works. A dedicated website will feature the track and suggest easy ways for people to get involved to make change happen.

Stories of aid workers will also feature on the website and in campaign updates. A number of unique video stories will provide a closer, more personal look at their commitment to improving the lives of others. One video tells of the unique experiences of an aid worker in Haiti, working with a family affected by the 2010 earthquake. Another shares the harrowing experience of being kidnapped and held captive in Chechnya.

Why 19 August?

On 19 August 2003, a massive truck bomb detonated in Baghdad, Iraq, killing 22 people including 18 UN staff members and injuring dozens more. WHD is held on the anniversary of the attack to commemorate the contributions and sacrifices of those who give others hope and help, as well as the people they help.

Today humanitarian work remains dangerous. In 2010, 249 aid workers were killed, injured or kidnapped. Yet aid workers continue to operate in places that are often remote, difficult and hostile to help some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

You can follow the countdown to WHD and the launch of the website via OCHA’s Facebook Page and on Twitter.

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