Tuesday, August 20, 2013

World Humanitarian Day

Media Advisory - World Humanitarian Day
19th August, 201

On 19th August, 2003, the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello and 21 of his colleagues were killed in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad.

Originally started in 2009, in remembrance of the 22 UN staff killed on that day, World Humanitarian Day is a day to remember aid workers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. It is also a day to recognise and celebrate the work of humanitarian personnel around the world who have made the ultimate sacrifices in relieving the suffering of victims of humanitarian crises.

This year, Malawi joins the rest of the international humanitarian community in commemorating World Humanitarian Day.

Malawi has had incidences affecting hundreds of thousands of individuals in different parts of the country, be it floods, earthquakes or food insecurity. During the 2012/2013 season, an estimated 1.6 million people were food insecure during the last quarter. This number rose close to 2 million people in 16 districts during the first quarter of 2013. From November 2012 to March 2013, more than 33,000 households were affected by floods and stormy winds in 22 districts. 27 people died in Dedza, Chikhwawa, Phalombe, Mangochi, Zomba, Salima and Karonga as a direct or indirect result of the disasters, most of whom drowned due to flooding of rivers.

The 2013/2014 season has also been marred with food insecurity and the June 2013 Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee report estimates that 1.4 million people in 21 districts will require humanitarian assistance. This could be either through direct food transfers, cash transfers or both. There are also a considerable number of people fleeing from fighting and conflicts in their home land.

The Government, International NGOs, Local NGOs, the Red Cross and Crescent Society, and the United Nations Agencies have worked tirelessly to ensure that populations affected by disasters receive humanitarian assistance. However, it is not possible to respond year in and year out without finding and implementing long term solutions. There is a need for collaborative efforts to implement long term development programmes and interventions while responding to disasters in a timely and professional way.

This year marks 5 years since the World Humanitarian Day was established. And this year’s campaign not only seeks to celebrate the contributions that humanitarian workers make to humanitarian work but also encourages the private sector to continue providing more support towards humanitarian interventions. Through sponsor a word initiative, the private sector is being asked to pick a word that they best feel completes the phrase “The World Needs More …………………………….”

People can also participate by being part of the promotional messaging designed for the World Humanitarian Day by choosing a word that best completes the above phrase. Everyone is therefore being challenged to play a part by making use of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to promote the campaign and hence inspire others to get involved.

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