With a record 130 million people worldwide dependent on humanitarian assistance, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that while solutions to complex crises may not be simple or quick, “there are things we can all do – we can show compassion, raise our voices against injustice, and work for change.”
With a record 130 million people worldwide now dependent on humanitarian assistance, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that though solutions to the crises that plunged these people into such desperate hardship are neither simple nor quick, “there are things we can all do – today, and every day. We can show compassion, we can raise our voices against injustice, and we can work for change.”
“World Humanitarian Day is an annual reminder of the need to act to alleviate the suffering,” said Mr. Ban in his message on the Day, which he said is also an occasion to honour the humanitarian workers and volunteers toiling on the frontlines of crises and pay tribute to these dedicated women and men who brave danger to help others at far greater risk.
Noting that a record 130 million people are dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive, he said while these figures are truly staggering, they tell only a fraction of the story. Hidden behind the statistics are individual's families and communities whose lives have been devastated.
“From parents who must choose between buying food or medicine for their children to families who must risk bombing at home or a perilous escape by sea; their stories have led up to the creation of these initiatives,” said the UN chief.
“Today, I urge everyone to sign on to the United Nations World You'd Rather campaign, which is at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), said Mr. Ban. The 17 global goals offer a 15-year plan to reduce need and vulnerability, promoting a world of peace, dignity and opportunity for all.
“We need everyone to play their part. Each one of us can make a difference," continued Mr. Ban.
Earlier this year, 9,000 participants gathered in Istanbul for the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit. World leaders committed to transform the lives of people living in conflict, disaster and acute vulnerability. They rallied behind the Agenda for Humanity and its pledge to leave no one behind.
The Secretary-General encouraged involvement as well as raising awareness and building empathy, the new campaign has a concrete goal: to raise money for the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and to enrol the support of individuals everywhere as Messengers of Humanity.
“On this World Humanitarian Day, let us unite in the name of humanity and show that we cannot and will not leave anyone behind,” said the Secretary-General.
At today's annual memorial service in honour of fallen UN staff on the anniversary of the Canal Hotel bombing in Iraq, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said that “those who attack the United Nations want to make us afraid, feel weak and to retreat” but “those we honour today inspire us to be bold and determined to go forward.”
“This challenge we meet all over the world today – from Syria to South Sudan, from Yemen to Libya, from Somalia to Afghanistan, where humanitarian workers and peacekeepers have lost or are risking their lives,” he said.
Noting that 22 people were killed in the hotel bombing in Baghdad on 19 August 2003, Mr. Eliasson said that World Humanitarian Day is an occasion to recall and remember colleagues who lost their lives in their mission to help people in conflict and in desperate need.
“This tragedy touched all of us who believe in the United Nations and who understand that our blue flag only flies because committed people wave it – like our friends and colleagues in Baghdad,” he said.
He concluded that having lost colleagues not only in Iraq but all over the world before and since then – the most important thing is to work in an even more determined way, never losing faith in the role of the UN and in “our own responsibility to work for peace, development and human rights.”
Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson at wreath-laying ceremony calls for the continued shouldering of everyone's own responsibility to work for peace, development, and human rights.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O'Brien warned that crises around the world, from Syria to South Sudan, are forcing people to make impossible choices – risking violence for food or risking drowning in search of a safe haven, calling on all global citizens to show solidarity, use their voice and demand that world leaders take action.
“At the heart of World Humanitarian Day are the aid workers and volunteers who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty,” he noted.
Joining the call for action are renowned Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer, Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf, Tony Award winner and former Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr., Quantico actress Yasmine Al Massri and The Voice Season 10 winner Alisan Porter, who attended a commemorative event at the UN Headquarters in New York tonight.
Syrian refugee Hala Kamil, who fled Aleppo with her four children to find safety in Germany, also spoke at the event. Their story is the subject of the film “Watani, My Homeland” by director Marcel Mettelsiefen, which is now streaming on PBS as the documentary “Children of Syria.”
Addressing an audience in the iconic General Assembly Hall just one month ahead of the UN Summit on refugees and migrants, Ms. Kamil called on world leaders to uphold their responsibilities to help the women, men and children who are forced to flee their homes due to conflict.
Speaking at the same event, the UN Deputy Secretary-General highlighted the unspeakable tragedy of Syria.
“The Syrian people are subject to daily horrors. Barrel bombs. Terrorist acts. Chlorine gas attacks. Hospital bombings. Torture. Starvation. Siege. Desperate flight,” he said.
He called for a ceasefire or, at least, sufficient humanitarian pauses to reach the huge number of people in desperate need of food and medical supplies in Aleppo, urging all parties to support the proposal of UN Special Envoy for Syria and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to observe a 48-hour humanitarian pause in the city next week.
More than halfway through the year, the UN and its partners have received less than a third of the $21.6 billion required to meet the most urgent humanitarian needs in 2016.
Celebrity activists and influencers, including actress Rosario Dawson, entrepreneur Richard Branson, and Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya, will amplify this call for change through the “The World You'd Rather” campaign.