Why celebrate World Humanitarian Day?

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

August 19, 2020- If you watch or read world news, you undoubtedly know there are millions of people who live in conditions that we would consider “intolerable.” Those who strive every day to prevent and alleviate this human suffering, without regard to race, creed, sex, color or nationality, are humanitarians, and those are the ones honored each August 19th.

Every volunteer with the American Red Cross is a humanitarian. Here in Northern Ohio, our volunteers respond every day to local disasters, such as home fires, to help residents in need and provide comfort and support.

Our volunteers even deploy across the country to help provide humanitarian assistance. During the early hurricane and wildfire season in 2020, Northern Ohio has deployed more than 10 disaster volunteers to assist affected communities.

The Problem

You don’t have to listen to the news very long to comprehend all the challenges in the world today:

  • Armed conflicts are killing innocent civilians without regard to international conventions
  • Infectious diseases are becoming more prevalent and harder to contain
  • Lack of employment, housing, nutrition and medical supplies are all worldwide concerns
  • Climate change has decimated crop growing regions and endangered coastal areas with flooding
  • Authoritarian leaders have pillaged country’s coffers and jailed those who dare to protest

The Need

According to the 2020 United Nations (UN) Global Humanitarian Overview, responding to these needs is going to require an unprecedented effort.

  • 166,500,000 People are in need worldwide
  • 108,800,000 People have been targeted for aid by the UN. (Some countries will not allow UN aid)
  • $29,700,000,000 Required to meet their needs
  • $15,960,000,000 Funding received from UN members
  • $13,740,000,000 Yes, that’s a $13-billion shortfall for meeting the anticipated needs this year.

That’s a crisis in itself…

But, that’s not all

The above numbers represent day-to-day requirements for those in need worldwide. What they don’t include are disasters, which the Red Cross forecasts will be increasing each year due to climate change.

That is where the Red Cross comes in. Helping people prepare for disasters, responding immediately after disasters, and helping people reconnect and rebuild lives in the aftermath are all specialties of the Red Cross.

August 17, 2020. Veterans Memorial Colosseum Red Cross operated shelter. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Fried chicken and vegetables is the ultimate comfort meal, served to shelter client Brian by volunteer Robert. Photo by Dennis Drenner/American Red Cross

Moreover, the Red Cross supplies humanitarians, more than 90% of whom are volunteers, who give of their time and talents to provide hope and comfort to others in their time of need.

Across the United States, nearly 372,000 volunteers give a little or give a lot of their time to be on-call for the next home fire, flooding event or other emergency. Won’t you consider becoming part of this country’s largest humanitarian organization? Explore the opportunities you might be qualified for by clicking here.  And remember to celebrate all the humanitarians actively working around the world each August 19.

World Humanitarian Day Draws Attention to #NotATarget Movement

By Ifat Gazia, American Red Cross volunteer

The list of civilian killings around the world continues to grow. At least 51 people were killed last week in Yemen when an  airstrike claimed lives of 40 school children and 11 other people. In Syria, 500,000 civilians have been killed in the last seven years and the Syrian Red Crescent has lost more than 60 of its team members to violence since the crisis began. More than 14,000 civilians lost their lives in the ongoing Kashmir conflict.

This is World Humanitarian Day,  meant to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service and to rally support for people impacted by crises around the world. The #NotATarget movement asks world leaders to do everything in their power to protect all civilians caught in conflict zones worldwide.

Although civilians are protected under International Humanitarian Law, every year, thousands of innocent people – children, young, old, men, women, physically challenged, migrants, refugees, aid workers, doctors, journalists and others who work or live in conflict zones lose their lives to the violence.

On this World Humanitarian Day, let’s take a moment and commemorate the daily struggles of these civilians who live or work in war torn areas. Armed conflict affects lives in many ways and leaves long term effects on the victims of war, especially children.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) protects the lives and dignity of victims of war, and provides them with aid.  Therefore, on this Humanitarian Day let’s campaign together and make sure that civilians are #NotATarget for political instabilities and armed conflicts. Let’s ensure organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross—and the local Red Cross and Red Crescent societies that work alongside them—are freely allowed to operate with their aid operations in conflict-ridden areas, and that rules of war are followed, especially not to bomb hospitals and schools, kill innocent children and hamper or stop aid operations.

 

5 Ways to Support World Humanitarian Day

5ways

Sign the petition to protect civilians trapped in conflict
Visit www.worldhumanitarianday.org to sign the petition demanding that civilians in conflict are protected – encourage your colleagues and counterparts to add their
names.
• Share the #NotATarget campaign on Social Media
Download a social media graphic from our repository http://bit.ly/WHDcomms17 and post it with the following sample tweet to your social media accounts:
On #WorldHumanitarianDay, I stand up for civilians trapped in conflict. They are #NotATarget. Sign the petition at WorldHumanitarianDay.org Visit OCHA’s Twitter (twitter.com/UNOCHA) and Facebook (facebook.com/UNOCHA/) accounts to share the
#NotATarget messages.

• Organize your Stand Together event
Invite your colleagues and partners to stand together in solidarity with millions of civilians trapped in conflict. We have prepared #NotATarget signs for you to print and
hold during the event. (See the guidelines for organizing a Stand Together.)

• Join a Stand Together event
Across the world, the UN and partners will be organizing Stand Together events. Contact an OCHA office in your country to see what is being planned. In New York, on Friday 18 August, you can join the the UN ‘Staff Stand Together’ at 11:30am at UNHQ and the public event in Times Square at 4:00pm. Similar events are being planned across the world. Together we will reaffirm that civilians caught in conflict are #NotATarget and demand global action to protect them.

• Record a Facebook Live video with the #NotATarget filter
Starting from 18 August, visit UNOCHA’s Facebook page where you will find a link to the #NotATarget filter. Access the filter and record a live video, narrating the story of a person trapped in conflict.

The American Red Cross is a part of the global network dedicated to relieving human suffering. Learn more here.

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