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World Humanitarian Day 2012: people helping people, 19 August 2012

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A Somali woman hands her severely malnourished child to a medical officer of the African Union Mission in Somalia. A Somali woman hands her severely malnourished child to a medical officer of the African Union Mission in Somalia. Source: UN/Stuart Price.World Humanitarian Day is celebrated annually on 19 August to recognize those humanitarian workers who face danger and adversity and to honour those who have lost their lives or been injured in the course of their humanitarian work.

The UN General Assembly designated 19 August as World Humanitarian Day in memory of the 22 people who were killed in the brutal terrorist attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, which took place on 19 August in 2003.

Every year, natural disasters, conflicts and other emergencies threaten the lives and health of millions of people, usually the world's poorest, most marginalized and vulnerable individuals. In the middle of such crises, thousands of dedicated humanitarian workers strive to care for those who have been affected and support local authorities to deliver assistance.

Driven by the spirit of solidarity that animates courageous humanitarian efforts, thousands of relief workers leave the comfort of their own homes to aid others, from those affected by hunger, to civilians victimized by conflicts to victims of natural disasters – all of those in need of support to relieve their suffering.

Responding to emergencies is only one aspect of humanitarian work. Humanitarian workers also support communities to rebuild their lives after disasters, to develop resilience in the face of future crises, to advocate for the voices of those affected by conflict and disaster to be heard and to build lasting and sustainable peace in areas of conflict. World Humanitarian Day also draws global attention to humanitarian needs and the importance of international cooperation in meeting these needs.

The theme of this year’s Day “I was here” is about making a mark by doing something good, somewhere, for someone else. It presents an historic opportunity to bring together people from around the world to advance a powerful and proactive idea – people helping people.

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I was here, World Humanitarian Day 19 August 2012