Unseen noble heroes who help others
World Humanitarian Day, a commemoration established by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2008, was celebrated yesterday. The date was chosen because it is the anniversary of the 2003 Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad where 22 people lost their lives.
The celebration was held for the first time in 2009 “to contribute to increasing public awareness about humanitarian work and the importance of international cooperation and to commemorate all humanitarian and United Nations and associated personnel who have worked in the promotion of the humanitarian cause and those who have lost their lives in the course of duty”.
Humanitarian workers provide life-saving assistance to millions of people worldwide. They operate in places that are often remote, difficult and hostile. In certain cases, they place their own lives at risk to help others.
In recent years, humanitarian work has become more dangerous. The level of threats and number of deliberate attacks on aid organisations has risen dramatically. In 2010 alone, 242 aid workers were killed, injured or kidnapped.
Humanitarian aid workers provide support for different world challenges such as hunger, gender-based violence, refugees and displaced people, help for children, as well as clean water and access to sanitation. The diversity of places, faces and endeavours of such humanitarians are enormous.
The total number of people affected by natural disasters has risen over the past decade and about 211 million people are directly affected each year. Women and children are especially affected because of their ongoing struggles with hunger, poor health and insecurity.
There are also new and difficult challenges that consistently arise. The growing economic crisis and global challenges such as poverty, global health problems, soaring prices and the rising number of people on the move, increases the need for humanitarians each year.
“The speed and scale of the events of 2011, and the massive humanitarian needs that arose, set major challenges for an effective and timely response,” said the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger just before standing down after 12 years in charge.
The number of Maltese nationals, primarily Church-related people, responding with generous, dedicated and selfless fieldwork to help those in desperate circumstances and during humanitarian emergencies is significant. The members Many a time, they receive strong financial support from others who are always happy to encourage them in their work and contribute to it through funding.
Moreover, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the Overseas Development Aid, regularly supports projects being carried out beyond our shores by local charitable organisations. Last year, the ministry part-financed 18 such projects in Africa, Asia, South and Central America, with the allocation of more than €260,000. The provision of such noble witness is to the credit of this nation.
World Humanitarian Day is a celebration of people helping people. It gives us the opportunity to recognise the precious contribution of all those members of our society who are doing or partaking in such work, primarily those dedicating their own lives to help others and to offer them new hope in faraway countries and risky environments.
Let’s hope that they will carry on their personal and collective commitment to such noble causes and do what we can to assist them.