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Saturday, August 20, 2011

People helping people: World Humanitarian Day 2011

Amidst the strife, the destruction, the heartbreak of natural and human-generated disasters, the goodness of humanity shines through. WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY celebrates this innate goodness in all of us. Visit the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs online to find out how you can help survivors and responders cope with calamities.

Primer on the World Humanitarian Day from the United Nations:

Every year, disasters cause immense suffering for millions of people – usually
the world’s poorest, most marginalized and vulnerable individuals. Humanitarian
aid workers strive to provide life-saving assistance and long term rehabilitation to
disaster-affected communities, regardless of where they are in the world and
without discrimination.

Humanitarian aid is based on a number of founding principles, including
humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. Humanitarian aid workers
want to be able to access those in need in order to provide vital assistance
. This
wish should be respected.

Humanitarian aid workers are from all corners of the world, male and female, and
reflect all cultures and backgrounds. The majority come from the countries in
which they work. Strong, professional and independent local organisations are
key actors in all humanitarian responses.

Everyone can be a humanitarian. People affected by disasters are the first to
help their own communities following a disaster. Communities, local partner
organizations, international organizations and the general public can build a
chain of solidarity to support communities in responding to and recovering from

Responding to emergencies is only one aspect of humanitarian work.
Humanitarian workers also support communities to rebuild their lives after
disasters, to become more resilient to future crises, to help their voices to be
heard, and to build lasting and sustainable peace in areas of conflict.

Today, the most pressing humanitarian crisis in the world is unfolding in the Horn
of Africa.
Famine has spread in Somalia, including Mogadishu, and threatens to
expand throughout the south. Many people are dying. 12.4 million people in
Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti urgently need our help and the numbers
are increasing. Humanitarian partners continue to work hard on the ground to
save lives. Their commitment must be matched by donors, the private sector and
individuals alike.

Awareness of impermanence and appreciation of our human potential will give us a sense of urgency that we must use every precious moment. - the Dalai Lama

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