Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a message on World Humanitarian Day that a record 130 million people depend on assistance to survive, a staggering number that would comprise the tenth most populous nation on earth.
At an event in the U.N. General Assembly on Friday night to mark the day “Arab Idol” winner Mohammed Assaf, Actress Natalie Dormer of “Game of Thrones” fame, “The Voice” winner Alisan Porter and former “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr. joined hundreds of diplomats and guests to support stepped up global efforts to alleviate global suffering.
The General Assembly established World Humanitarian Day in 2008 to honour humanitarian aid workers who have been killed or injured in the course of their work. August 19 was chosen because it is the anniversary of 2003 bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad which killed 22 staff members including top U.N. envoy to Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello.
U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said it is a day to remember sacrifices and courageous actions, to celebrate “our common humanity,” and to pay tribute to the thousands of humanitarian workers around the world “who risk their lives to deliver life-saving aid to people in need on the front lines of crisis and utter despair.”
Last year, Eliason said, 109 aid workers were killed, 110 were wounded and 68 were kidnapped, most in Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
U.N. humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said “in crises around the world, from Syria to South Sudan, people are forced to make impossible choices — risking violence for food or risking drowning in search of a safe haven — choices that most of us can barely imagine.”
He urged people around the world “to show solidarity, use their voice and demand that world leaders take action.”