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No matter what, we celebrate the world humanitarian day

Updated: Apr 19

Let's get into the Why?

On August 19, 2003, a bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, killed 22 humanitarian relief workers, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN Special Representative of the Security General for Iraq.After five years, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution commemorating August 19th as World Humanitarian Day.

Before we even go further…

Who are humanitarians?

These are people who have come together to save and preserve lives.They will never abandon humanitarian principles and will always seek to make the best judgments for the people they serve.Wondering what these principles are? Humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence are the principles that guide them in their everyday work spaces.

Humanitarian work is challenging and risky, nevertheless they remain committed to overcoming obstacles and providing life-saving aid to those in need.

Humanitarian workers encounter the upheavals of emergency situations and numerous conflicts in many countries throughout the world. The main goal for humanitarians is to provide the basic necessities of life such as food, water, shelter, education, health, nutrition, and protection.

This year's theme

In 2023, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) will support humanitarian workers by commemorating World Humanitarian Day 2023 with the hashtag #NoMatterWhat.That no matter what happens, humanitarian workers should collaborate to serve humanity.

This year's World Humanitarian Day Theme serves as a reminder that modern humanitarian work faces significant obstacles.Humanitarian workers are increasingly confronting greater difficulty and danger as a result of escalating geopolitical tensions, growing disregard for international humanitarian law, targeted attacks, and an increasing number of disinformation campaigns.

The crisis

The adverse effects of climate change such as droughts, floods, extreme storms, and unpredictable weather have destroyed crops and incomes, even leading to massive locust swarms in some countries.

With the COVID-19 aftermath lockdowns and economic, travel and trade disruptions have hammered incomes leading to global price hikes of food and other basics.

Then on top of that, Russia's assault against Ukraine has led to worldwide implications, causing a severe food crisis that has exposed countries already vulnerable to a shortage of resources owing to conflicts, climate change, and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the onset of Russia’s invasion, more than six million refugees have fled the country and more than five million have been internally displaced inside Ukraine. Millions more Ukrainians have been impacted by Russia’s attacks inside Ukraine.

All these have led to a hunger crisis.

How does this relate to what we are talking?

We are sure that you have a rough idea.If you don’t…then let’s dive into it.

Jakub is one of the heroes working in a non-governmental organisation in Wroclaw, Poland. He works restlessly to adapt the capacity of his organization to respond to some of the most urgent needs of refugees coming from Ukraine.

Anželika, a youth worker from Latvia, has been working with the Red Cross in providing support to people fleeing from the war and arriving in the country, by giving information to people as soon as possible about how to help and where to look for information and who to contact on what issues.

Sónia from Portugal gathered her friends and together they drove from Lisbon to Warsaw, at the beginning of the conflict, to transport essential goods and to help Ukraine families reunite in Portugal.

Apart from these people we also have humanitarian partners such as United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees, United Nations Crisis Relief, Save the Children, People in need that have helped out during this time of chaos.

Looking for inspiration?

Here are a few books that expound more on humanitarian aid.

  • Chasing Chaos by Jessica Alexander, frankly depicts life as a humanitarian worker. A great starting point for anyone looking for an honest and realistic account of working in humanitarian aid.

  • Emergency Sex (and Other Desperate Measures)by Andrew Thomson, Heidi Postlewait and Kenneth Cain.Emergency Sex is a must-read for anyone interested in humanitarian work or the United Nations. The book is brutally honest about how optimism can lead to despair as the authors traverse the many layers of UN bureaucracy and ineffective leadership.

  • Doing Bad by Doing Good by Christopher J. Coyne examines how decades of humanitarian assistance have failed to create a long-term impact. Coyne's book includes extensive study into the reasons why humanitarian activities fail, as well as key instances and case studies.

  • Humanitarian Ethics by Hugo Slim Readers are taken through modern situations in aid response that examine how the context in which humanitarian aid is supplied can influence its effectiveness. The book questions how humanitarian activity may remain ethical if the practical consequences of supporting those in need undermine its moral roots.

Band-Aid for a Broken Leg by Damien Brown’s is a must read for those interested in medical humanitarian work.

Focus on SDG

In line with the SDG of the month, At AIESEC we celebrate this day because it is important to recognise these brave men and women who have shown a strong commitment towards making the world a better place by providing aid to those in need.We all know that the economy will only thrive when the people are safe and healthy.The people are the ones that build the economy.

Our call to action

Let’s take a minute and celebrate all those who gave their life for humanitarian causes and those who still strive to work for such causes, and even put their lives at risk for that.That no matter what, we will always recognise and appreciate them.

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