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World Humanitarian Day

The United Nations’ (UN) World Humanitarian Day is held on August 19 each year. The day honors all humanitarians who have worked in the promotion of the humanitarian cause, and those who have lost their lives in the cause of duty. It aims to increase public awareness about humanitarian assistance activities worldwide and the importance of international cooperation.

What Do People Do?

World Humanitarian Day is a day dedicated to humanitarians worldwide, as well as to increase public understanding of humanitarian assistance activities. The day aims to honor humanitarian workers who have lost their lives or injured themselves in the course of their work, and to acknowledge the ongoing work of humanitarian staff around the world.

Many communities and organizations try to increase the importance of humanitarians by distributing publicity and information material. Additionally, some try to speak to the press to help spread these key messages of World Humanitarian Day, while other groups organize public events worldwide that feature humanitarian work.

For the year 2010 and beyond, it is anticipated that World Humanitarian Day will focus on particular humanitarian themes to help increase public awareness.

Public Life

World Humanitarian Day is a global observance and not a public holiday.

Background

Humanitarians provide life-saving assistance to millions of people worldwide. They place their own lives at risk to help others in conflict zones and areas of natural hazards. More than 700 humanitarian workers have died or experienced the most dangerous situations while trying to help those in need. Humanitarians 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.

World Humanitarian Day was established by the General Assembly of the UN in December 2008 and was first observed in August 2009. The date of August 19 is the anniversary date of the 2003 Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad where twenty-two people lost their lives including, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

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 poverty, insecurity, hunger, poor health and environmental decline. There are new and difficult challenges that arise each year that will require more flexible funding and adaptable humanitarian work. The increasing economic crisis and global challenges such as poverty, global health problems, increase prices and the rising number of people on the move, increases the need for humanitarians each year.

Symbols

World Humanitarian Day does not have a logo because the day does not “belong” to the UN or any other agency or organization.  The media documents support the day by capturing images that show people helping others that are in need of assistance.

World Humanitarian Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2010ThuAug 19World Humanitarian DayUnited Nations observance
2011FriAug 19World Humanitarian DayUnited Nations observance
2012SunAug 19World Humanitarian DayUnited Nations observance
2013MonAug 19World Humanitarian DayUnited Nations observance
2014TueAug 19World Humanitarian DayUnited Nations observance
2015WedAug 19World Humanitarian DayUnited Nations observance
2016FriAug 19World Humanitarian DayUnited Nations observance
2017SatAug 19World Humanitarian DayUnited Nations observance
2018SunAug 19World Humanitarian DayUnited Nations observance
2019MonAug 19World Humanitarian DayUnited Nations observance
2020WedAug 19World Humanitarian DayUnited Nations observance

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