World Humanitarian Day - 19 August 2014
Date: 19 August 2014
16:00 - 18:00
Location: Palais des Nations, Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room (Room XX); Entry: Pregny Gate, Door 40 - E Building, 3rd floor
Designated to be observed on 19 August as the day when 22 colleagues were killed at the United Nations office in Baghdad, World Humanitarian Day holds special significance for our United Nations family and our humanitarian partners. On this day, we come together to pay tribute to colleagues who have lost their lives in humanitarian service, we celebrate the spirit of survivors and we salute the humanitarians who bring relief to fellow human beings across the world.
On 19 August 2014, the Geneva community came together in the iconic Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room of the Palais des Nations to pay tribute to the humanitarian heroes who have lost their lives, and to celebrate the humanitarians who continue their service in the spirit of their fallen colleagues.
The World Humanitarian Day commemoration opened with a short film entitled “Voices from the Field”, featuring personal accounts of what it is like to work on the front line of humanitarian work.
In the interactive panel discussion “Messengers of Humanity” that followed, the distinguished panellists, Ambassador William L. Swing, Director General of IOM, Barbara Jackson of Care International, Lokiru Matendo Yohana from the Lutheran World Federation, and Dr. Rick Brennan of the WHO, recounted what inspired them to enter the humanitarian field, their most memorable moments and the challenges they faced in service.
The commemoration concluded with the unveiling of a plaque with the names of the 17 UN colleagues killed in the 11 December 2007 bombing of the United Nations offices in Algiers.
The Acting Director-General Michael Møller called for a moment of silence, and noted, “we are united in our commitment to safeguard the security and safety of humanitarians and all who serve our Organization”.
The ceremony was attended by the families of some of the victims of the bombing in Baghdad and Algiers who travelled to Geneva for this occasion, as well as by some of the survivors.
In her remarks, the UNDP Algiers Staff Representative and survivor of the Algiers bombing Farida Djeddou underscored, “This attack may have torn loved ones from us, but it will never stifle our hope that peace will reign, nor will it make us doubt that the union of our efforts is the only way to build a better world”.
The plaque was unveiled beside the remnants of the United Nations flag that flew in Algiers on that day, which is permanently on display at UNOG.
The ceremony in Geneva was webcast and staff in Algiers came together to be part of it. To watch the webcast in replay, click here.
In his message, the Secretary-General stressed that, “On World Humanitarian Day, we renew our commitment to life-saving relief efforts -- and we remember all those who died serving this noble cause”.
They are without question the heroes of our time.
For more information on the global World Humanitarian Day campaign and to sign up as a “Messenger of Humanity”, visit www.worldhumanitarian day.org.
You can also follow the day on Twitter @UNGeneva, @UNOG_DG and @UNOGPolitical, and through the hash tags #WHDGeneva and #HumanitarianHeroes.