World Humanitarian Day: An International Day to Celebrate the Humanitarian Spirit
New York, 19 August 2013 — Today marks the tenth anniversary of the bombing of the United Nations Headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, an attack that claimed the lives of 22 UN and aid agency staff including the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello.
“Today is a day of mixed emotions for everyone involved in humanitarian work,” said Valerie Amos, the United Nations Humanitarian Chief who is attending World Humanitarian Day events in Brazil. “We remember those we lost in Baghdad and we remember all aid workers who have lost their lives. But in their memory, we also celebrate the humanitarian spirit.”
Events are being held in more than 50 cities around the world to celebrate World Humanitarian Day. In New York, families of those killed in the Iraq bombing will attend an event hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and in Rio de Janeiro, the Government of Brazil has arranged a series of events to celebrate Sérgio Vieira de Mello’s legacy.
Elsewhere, events include an academic debate in Colombia, the awarding of an humanitarian prize in Madagascar, the hosting of fairs and photo exhibits in Mali and Pakistan, and even humanitarian-themed races, flash mobs and soccer tournaments in Panama, Thailand and Côte d’Ivoire respectively.
Today also sees the official start of a global campaign called “The World Needs More__”. The campaign brings together different parts of the United Nations and wider humanitarian community, as well as celebrities, philanthropists and corporations in an effort to turn people’s words on social media into aid and support for communities affected by humanitarian crises.
“World Humanitarian Day is now recognized as a day of global importance,” said Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP). “Last year, the humanitarian community reached millions of people through social media. This year, it aims to go one better and turn those ‘shares’ and ‘re-tweets’ into real assistance for people in need.”
‘The World Needs More__’ campaign enables leading global brands to sponsor a word they believe the world could use more of. Between 19 August and 24 September, people can “unlock” money pledged by these brands by sharing the sponsored words through social media, SMS or through the campaign website www.worldhumanitarianday.org. Every time a sponsored word is shared, US$1 will be unlocked and go towards aid efforts in the world’s most underfunded humanitarian crises. People will also be able to donate directly.
Large inflated blimps and balloons featuring the campaign’s slogan and iconography are today flying over iconic locations in more than 20 cities around the world, including above UN headquarters in New York and the ‘Hollywood’ sign in Los Angeles.