OCHA (the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) launches the "World Humanitarian Day". It is dedicated to "thousands of aid workers who have devoted their lives to humanitarian work, matching idealism with action, and principles with practice. Their selfless and non-political endeavours are vital for the necessary acceptance by all concerned that assistance to the needy should be provided impartially and neutrally, without reference to religion, gender, or race."
In short, it is a day dedicated to us, aidworkers. Why August 19th, you may ask? On August 19 2003, "Canal Hotel", the UN office and living compound in Baghdad was hit by a massive terrorist attack, leaving 22 UN staff dead and dozens wounded, as you can read in my Ebook shortstory A Requiem for Baghdad.
August 19 2003 was a turning point after which attacks on aidworkers became more frequent and equally violent. 2008 had the highest amount of security incidents involving humanitarian aid workers: 260 humanitarians were victims of security incidents. 122 aidworkers were killed, and 62 were kidnapped. (Source)
Despite all these efforts and human sacrifices, the world is still in a sad state:
- According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), world hunger is projected to reach a historic high in 2009, with just over a billion people going hungry every day.
- Violence and war forced 15.2 million people to flee their own country while at least 26 million have been displaced within their own countries.
- In 2008 more than 9 million children died before their fifth birthday. Most of these children lived in developing countries and died from a disease or a combination of diseases that could easily have been prevented or treated.
- Every year, 1.8 million people die from diarrhoeal diseases
- An average of 211 million people are directly affected each year by natural disasters.
- Millions of the world's most vulnerable are expected to be affected by climate change, increasing prolonged droughts, repeated floods and more frequent cyclones and hurricanes.
- While humanitarian needs are increasing because of the economic crisis and other global challenges such as population pressure, global health pandemics, and price spikes, the global economic crisis puts pressure on the aid budgets of all donor governments.