World Humanitarian Day 2010

Today (August 19th) is World Humanitarian Day and I wanted to take the time to recognize the hard work of humanitarians around the globe. August 19th marks the anniversary of the Canal bombing in Baghdad in 2003 where 22 people died. World Humanitarian Day was then chosen to be held on this date to commemorate those who lost their lives in the bombing as well as draw attention to the humanitarian workers who've died in recent years. 

World Humanitarian Day not only seeks to remember those who've lost their lives, but also to draw attention to the various humanitarian needs and crisis worldwide, as well as to explain what humanitarian work entails (more Q&A here). 

Humanitarians base their work on four primary principles: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and operational independence. They believe that humanitarian aid should be available wherever there is human suffering - regardless of race, religion, nationality, class, gender, or political affiliation. Humanitarians must not choose sides and must carry out their work based on need alone. Humanitarian assistance must also operate separate from any political or military operations so as not to exclude anyone from the assistance they need and to remain completely neutral. 

In recent years, there has been a saddening pattern of rising humanitarian deaths. Particularly among national staff, the reports of death, kidnappings, and victims of other security incidents have been getting more frequent. In 2009 alone, 278 humanitarians were victims of security incidents, while in 1999 there was only 65. In 2009, 102 humanitarian aid workers were killed (88 national staff and 14 international workers) which was significantly higher than the 30 humanitarians killed in 1999. 2009 also ended with 92 kidnappings of which 59 were national staff and 33 were international. 139 more humanitarian workers were victims of other security incidents like assassinations, ambushes, combat crossfire, and suicide bombings. (read more...)

Humanitarian workers in the field also have the difficult job of actually providing aid and doing their job. Especially in Darfur, aid groups are constantly being prohibited to enter the region and are being expelled quite frequently, making the job of delivering assistance a very difficult task. The worsening security situation for humanitarians was also in the news very recently when 2 UN peacekeepers were kidnapped in Darfur and thankfully released 3 days later unharmed and also when 3 Indian UN peacekeepers were killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this week (remember to send a thank you letter to UN peacekeepers!).

So as you are going about your daily life today, keep in mind the people who are serving around the world to bring aid to those most in need as well as the people receiving the assistance. Thanks to all the humanitarian workers risking their lives today, tomorrow, and everyday - I hope to join you in four years!


  1. Girl! We will be in that movie in a few years ;) haha

  2. Exciting, right!? I know, I sure hope so :)

  3. Beautiful blog & mission Karen.

    If hope is alive (which it is!:-), it's manifested through our ability to unite to aid others.



  4. Thank you so much for the kind words Luckie! I really appreciate it!
    I completely agree with you! Even the smallest acts of kindness/aid/compassion can show that there is hope in the world, even in the most dismal situations.

  5. God bless and keep safe those who provide humanitarian aid! Noble work!


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