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World Humanitarian Day 2012

This Sunday is World Humanitarian Day 2012, and this year’s theme is ‘I Was Here’.

World Humanitarian Day aims to celebrate the sacrifice aid workers make to ensure the world’s most vulnerable receive the support they so desperately need.

I often get asked while working in my local pub what I’m training to do and my response always generates surprise amongst the predominantly older, male customers: “Why on Earth would you want to do that?” they ask, and I laugh, “I couldn’t imagine wanting to do anything else”.

Aid workers provide life-saving assistance to millions of people worldwide. They risk their own lives to help others in conflict zones or threatened by natural hazards.

Increasingly, they come under attack, they’re shot at,  and compounds are bombed. Sometimes, they lose their lives.

In fact, August 19 was chosen because it was the date on which a terrorist attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad killed 22 people in 2003.

Aid workers are heroes

Despite the obvious and real risk, aid workers provide life-saving assistance and long-term rehabilitation to disaster-affected communities, regardless of where they are in the world and without prejudice.

Humanitarian aid doubtless saves many millions of lives each year, but responding to emergencies is only one aspect of humanitarian work.

Aid workers also support communities to rebuild their lives after disasters, to become more resilient to future crises, to advocate for their voices to be heard, and to build lasting and sustainable peace in areas of conflict.

What could be more worthwhile than that?

This World Humanitarian Day, as Ban Ki Moon and Beyonce encourage one billion people to help one another, I’ll be thinking of the thousands of humanitarian workers currently in the field and those that have given their lives, and celebrating their ongoing achievements.

I am proud that, very soon, I shall be joining their ranks.

It is a fallacy that one person can’t change the world. Do something good for someone else. Nothing is too small. Make your mark.


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