Tuesday, 16 August 2016

World Humanitarian Day 2016

“In a world that is ever more digitally connected, each of us has the power and responsibility to inspire our fellow human beings to act to help others and create a more humane world." — UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon
For those of us who do not live in a war- torn country or an area of the world torn apart by conflict we cannot fully understand and appreciate the dangerous and equally critical work of aid workers, who risk their lives in humanitarian service to bridge the divide between war and peace. Whether the conflict is on the battlefields of Syria, or South Sudan, Central African Republic, The Democratic Republic of the Congo and or Yemen, disagreement have been with us from time immemorial. Sadly, the average citizen usually bears the brunt of the strife when political leadership fails to prevent and or bring about an end to humanitarian crisis. The United Nations as a result has set aside August 19, to commemorate World Humanitarian Day.  The day was designated by the General Assembly seven years ago to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq.  World Humanitarian Day is especially important in helping to raise the awareness for the millions of our fellow human beings who are suffering across the planet. According to the United Nations, more than 130 million people are suffering and require humanitarian assistance to survive. Disturbingly, women and children account for the majority of those who are in desperate need of assistance in order to get by due to conflicts. The theme for World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is “One Humanity”.  We are reminded almost daily on social media and traditional media about the ongoing conflicts which have ripped apart families and have left many as refugees. We need to urge global leaders to do more in terms of supporting the work of aid workers by providing funding for UN peace keepers, as well as, by adhering to the rules of war. International organizations, such as, the Red Cross must be given access to those who are suffering and require assistance during times of war. The theme of WHD serves as a reminder that regardless, of one’s skin colour, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or any other social indicator we are all impacted in the same manner by conflicts and disasters. The one humanity theme is a call to action in galvanizing our shared experiences in order to mobilize a common responsibility to demand action for the most vulnerable and at risk among us.  The UN and its partners each year organize events that will raise consciousness of the Agenda for Humanity and inspire people to demand greater global action for the millions of people displaced and ravaged by conflicts all across the world.
What can you do?
World Humanitarian Day is a day for everyone to come together and take action for a safer and more humane world for the communities affected by crisis and the people who devote their lives to helping them. Citizen participation is very much welcome and a number of activates can be done to get involved. One can learn about the agenda for humanity and the five core responsibilities. These are: political leadership to prevent and end conflicts, upholding the norms which safeguard humanity, leave no one behind, change people’s lives from delivering aid to ending need and finally, investing in humanity. Additionally, there is also the use of the #sharehumanity hashtag to advocate for the agenda for humanity and the more than 130 million people affected by crisis as well as attending or organizing a WHD event on Friday, August 19. We all have a responsibility to help in our own way to make this world a better place. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, every state has the primary duty to protect its own population from grave and sustained violations of human rights, as well as from the consequences of humanitarian crisis, whether natural or man-made.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.