World Humanitarian Day 2020: Theme, significance and all you need to know
World Humanitarian Day website

World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is celebrated on August 19 every year on to pay tribute to aid workers, people who risk their lives in humanitarian service and to support people affected by crises around the world.

Well, this year World Humanitarian Day comes as the world continues to fight the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic over recent months.


This day was held in memory of the August 19, 2003 bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, that killed 22 people, including the chief humanitarian in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. To pay tributes and recognize the efforts by people who risk their lives for humanitarian causes, in 2009, the United Nations General Assembly formalized the day as World Humanitarian Day.

The day is the outcome of the relentless efforts of the Sérgio Vieira de Mello Foundation and his family working closely with the Ambassadors of France, Switzerland, Japan, and Brazil in both Geneva and New York to the table and steer the draft Resolution through the General Assembly.


"Aid workers are overcoming unprecedented access hurdles to assist people in humanitarian crises in 54 countries, as well as in a further nine countries which have been catapulted into humanitarian need by the COVID-19 pandemic," says World Humanitarian Day on its website.

On August 19, the eleventh year that we have marked World Humanitarian Day, we are paying special tribute to the real-life heroes who have committed their lives to help others in the most extreme circumstances throughout the world.

The campaign - #RealLifeHeroes focuses on what drives humanitarians to continue to save and protect lives despite conflict, insecurity, lack of access and risks linked to COVID-19.

The website further says, "This year, COVID-19 has been the biggest challenge to humanitarian operations around the world. The lack of access and restrictions placed by Governments around the world has resulted in communities, civil society and local NGOs being the frontline of the response."

Therefore, the campaign presents the inspiring personal stories of humanitarians who are treating and preventing COVID-19, providing food to vulnerable people in need, providing safe spaces for women and girls in lockdown; delivering babies; fighting locusts and running refugee camps, all amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The theme changes every year depending on the situation. The campaign for 2019 World Humanitarian Day is ‘Women Humanitarians’. On this day, women who had worked in crisis throughout the world, be it from the war-wounded in Afghanistan to the food insecure in the Sahel were honored.

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