World Humanitarian Day - 19th August 2020
Humanitarian action demonstrates its significance in its
wording, insinuating altruism of man and the value of
humanity. With no single definition, humanitarian action
can be described as the mobilization of human beings
in response to crises with the aim of alleviating suffering
and maintaining human dignity for the good of
However, humanitarians have to work in challenging
conditions in order to reach out to victims of violence
and armed conflict, and draw attention to their plight.
On the 19th of August 2003, an attack took place in the
Canal Hotel (Baghdad - Iraq), resulting in the tragic
death of 22 individuals, including the chief humanitarian
officer at the time, Sergio Vieira de Mello.
Thus, in memory of the 19 August 2003 bomb attack,
the United Nations General Assembly designated the
19th of August as World Humanitarian Day, recognizing the brave humanitarians who have lost their lives while relentlessly fighting to alleviate the suffering of victims of humanitarian crises.
World Humanitarian Day provides the opportunity to honor the work of relief and health professionals in the field, who continue to provide support and protection to the most vulnerable communities, despite the challenges. This year, the celebration of World Humanitarian day coincides with the global fight against COVID-19, creating unforeseen challenges, socio-economic, health and socio-political issues and obstacles to humanitarian assistance.
Furthermore, with the aim of flattening the epidemic curve of COVID-19, governments have imposed restrictions, resulting in civil society, local communities and local NGOs being the immediate frontline of the response and taking extraordinary measures to ensure the provision of help and support to those negatively affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
It is estimated that 168 million people need immediate humanitarian assistance, a number historically unheard of. The number is expected to increase to an alarming rate of 200 million people in need of critical humanitarian assistance by 2022, if the root causes of conflict and violence are not addressed.
The Geneva Institute for Human Rights would like to take this moment to recognize the brave martyrs who fearlessly fought to ensure the protection and respect of human dignity of the victims of humanitarian crisis at the tragic expense of their own life, in addition to the heros that have been on the immediate frontline of the COVID-19 response, providing health services, testing, protective equipment and life saving treatments to people across the globe.
Moreover, the Institute appeals to all States to unite efforts and cooperate to support relief organisations and professionals, providing them with the necessary resources and security, to effectively do their work. This is particularly necessary in countries of the Middle East and North Africa that have challenging security conditions often preventing the quick and efficient delivery of humanitarian aid. Finally, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights urges states to implement the core international human rights instruments to guarantee the global protection of human rights.