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World Humanitarian Day - 19th of August 2011

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   By: Dr. Jean Antoine Boodhoo

   2011-07-22 10:54 AM

Countries and communities have been plagued by natural and man made disasters since time immemorial. In recent times these have included incidents such as the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, bombing of the World Trade Centre in 2001 in the USA, the South East Asia Tsunami in 2004, Hurricane Katrina in the USA in 2005, the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011. Worldwide ongoing conflicts continue to result in the displacement of countless refugees. 

A band of humane men and women have dedicated their lives to assist other humans who suffer as a result of these calamities. These humanitarians come from both local and international communities and they serve others freely, irrespective of class, color, race, gender, religious belief, or political affiliation.

The world has been fortunate in being honoured by many such humanitarians.  Some have made contributions through their generous donations and others have made significant personal sacrifices. Some, sadly, have made the ultimate sacrifice with their life.

A few of these humanitarians will be mentioned; namely Bill Gates of Microsoft, Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammed Yunus of Bangladesh, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa of Calcutta. Sadly these humanitarians sometimes end up themselves being the victims of these disasters. Indeed, the World Health Organization statistics show that there have been an increasing number of serious incidents resulting in these humanitarians themselves being the victims.

 

1999

2009

Incidents

34

139

 Victims

               National Staff

                International

65

40

25

278

205

73

Killed

                      National

                International 

30

30

6

102

88

14

Kidnapped

                     National

               International 

20

2

18

92

59

33

W.H.O. (Statistics)

As a result of the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Iraq in 2003, 22 of its members died. The Special Representative to the Secretary General, Sergio Vieira de Mello, was unfortunately one of the victims. Subsequent to that event a movement grew to commemorate a day in recognition of humanitarians all over the world.

In December 2008, the United Nations dedicated the 19th of August annually as the World Humanitarian Day. This day has several purposes:

1)    Raise awareness about the work that the humanitarians do.

2)    Highlight the importance for countries, Government and Communities to cooperate in assisting the work of the Humanitarian Group.

3)    To commemorate humanitarian, U.N. and associated personnel who have worked in the promotion of the Humanitarian Cause.

4)    And commemorate those who have lost their lives in the cause of duty.

World Humanitarian Day will be commemorated by many countries all over the world. 

We wish to salute the many men and women worldwide who daily give of themselves to help their fellow humans, irrespective of race, color, class, gender, religious or political affiliation.

We urge everyone to celebrate this day and to encourage their government and communities to provide safety to these Humanitarians so that they can continue to do their miraculous work.

 May I challenge you, on August 19, 2011 – World Humanitarian Day, to donate the money that you would normally spend on lunch or coffee to the United Nations.


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