world humanitarian day
“One person can make a difference and every person should try.”

On Aug. 19, World Humanitarian Day is celebrated by hundreds of thousands of people around the world, recognizing the struggle and sacrifice made by aid workers.

World Humanitarian Day first began in 2003 in the wake of a terrorist attack that killed 22 aid workers who were working at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. Since then, the day has been set aside not only to shine a spotlight on those who often go unrecognized for their efforts, but also to remember those killed or seriously injured.

Since that first year, millions around the world have helped raise awareness of the real dangers that many aid workers face. The 2012 campaign – “I was here” – was one of the most successful reaching one billion people. It even included a song of the same name by Beyoncé in collaboration with the U.N.

In a video message about this year’s event, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated, “Last year, more humanitarian workers were kidnapped, seriously injured or killed than ever before. This is an outrage,”

World Humanitarian Day provides a chance to honor the fallen and support those who continue to work despite the dangers they face. This year’s theme, ‘The world needs more,’ is a campaign meant to recognize humanitarian work and raise awareness about the great work being done and to offer support. The organization is highlighting different aid workers around the world, posting short excerpts of their stories and what motivates them to keep going on its website.

In honor of this day, the U.N. asked people to be a part of the conversation by tweeting #humanitarianheroes and listing someone they admire. This allows people around the world to show support for the workers that risk their lives everyday and whose efforts often go unnoticed.

The organization has also put out an interactive map that highlights the work taking place all over the world including Iraq, the Central African Republic and the Gaza Strip.

World Humanitarian Day is the rare opportunity to celebrate the unique spirit that undertakes humanitarian work. It is a chance to recognize thousands of people who face incredible odds and dangers to help those most in need.

– Andrea Blinkhorn

Sources: World Humanitarian Day 1, World Humanitarian Day 2, Vimeo, IB Times
Photo: Starmedica