-- Since 2009 the world’s community of nations has celebrated World Humanitarian Day on August 19, as a day dedicated to recognizing humanitarian personnel and those who have lost their lives working in service for humanitarian causes.
This year, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is focusing its attention on the devastating famine crisis in the Horn of Africa; but is also asking the global public for their ideas on how to change the world.
The day is celebrated in honor of the tireless efforts of former UN diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello, who died August 19, 2003 along with 21 other colleagues in a bombing of the UN compound in Baghdad, Iraq. A national of Brazil, Sérgio Vieira de Mello died at age 55 after dedicating 34 years to the United Nations, international cause issues and bringing peace and comfort to the world’s citizens. He served fearlessly in some of the most challenging humanitarian situations, and died at age 55 leaving a legacy of peaceful co-existence and awareness of the need for people to help people.
The Sérgio Vieira de Mello Foundation works to remind the world every day that the sacrifice and tragic loss of Vieira de Mello, and all humanitarian personnel who have made the ultimate effort to relieve the suffering of victims of war and inequity, have not been in vain.
Since 2006 the Vieira de Mello family and a group of close friends have dedicated their lives to continue his unfinished mission by supporting initiatives to promote dialogue for peaceful reconciliation of communities divided by conflict through an annual Sergio Vieira Mello Award, an Annual Sergio Vieira Mello Memorial Lecture, a Sergio Vieira de Mello Fellowship and advocating for the security and independence of humanitarians worldwide.
People helping people, Sergio Vieira de Mello would be proud.
On this day, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon offers this message:
“There is never a year without humanitarian crises. And wherever there are people in need, there are people who help them – men and women coming together to ease suffering and bring hope. From Japan to Sudan, from Pakistan to the Horn of Africa, aid workers help people who have lost their homes, loved ones and sources of income. These humanitarians often brave great danger, far from home. They work long hours, in the most difficult conditions. Their efforts save lives in conflict and natural disaster. They also draw the world closer together by reminding us that we are one family, sharing the same dreams for a peaceful planet, where all people can live in safety, and with dignity.
On World Humanitarian Day, we honour these aid workers and thank them for their dedication. And we pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice – in Afghanistan, Haiti and beyond. Too many have died, or suffered their own loss, in the course of duty. We pledge to do all we can to ensure the world’s humanitarians are kept safe to do their essential work. This is also a day to examine our own lives and consider what more we can do to help -- to reach out to people enduring conflict, disaster and hardship. Let those we honour today inspire us to start our own journey to make the world a better place and bring our human family more closely together.”