Today when we hear that the last American combat troops leave Iraq, it is somewhat appropriate that the United Nations is holding World Humanitarian Day which was instituted by the General Assembly of the United Nations to
contribute to increasing public awareness about humanitarian work and the importance of international cooperation, and to commemorate all humanitarian and United Nations and associated personnel who have worked in the promotion of humantiarian cause, and those who have lost their lives in the course of duty.
WHD is held today as a result of an attack on the United Nations HQ in Baghdad on 19 August 2003 when twenty-two people lost their lives including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN, we are all being asked to remember the aid workers who work throughout the world to relief suffering and work for peace.
Family and friends of Sergio Veiera de Mello have set up a foundation in his memory, which is suppoted by former Secretary General, Kofi Annan
As I said at the time of his tragic death, Sergio dedicated his professional life to the values set out in the United Nations Charter. He never once hesitated to take on difficult, even dangerous assignments. Victims of conflict and disasters throughout the world came to know him as someone who understood their plight and knew how to deliver results despite enormous obstacles. That effectiveness was always combined with a remarkable grace and sensitivity.
We cannot accept that all his brilliance, his energy, his devotion to his staff and his loyalty to the ideals of the United Nations, have been so abruptly taken from us.
It is for this reason, that I warmly commend to you the work of this Foundation that will keep alive among us the memory and the vision of Sergio.
If you have a spare few moments today, take a look at the World Humanitarian Day website – and see more about what it is about. WHD this year is
- to draw attention to humanitarian needs worldwide;
- to explain in simple, visual terms what humanitarian aid work entails; and
- to remember those who have lost their lives in humanitarian service.
You can download WHD materials here. (UN Officer for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)