World Humanitarian Day is a day the United Nations and world citizens take time to honor and remember 22 humanitarian aid workers tragically killed during the bombing of the United Nations office in Baghdad, Iraq on August 19, 2003.
It is also a time that we come together as a global community to honor, remember, and celebrate humanitarian aid workers that have given their lives trying to help others in their darkest hours, and those who are currently serving others during some of the most trying times the world has seen.
Humanitarian aid work is a calling that few people are able to do. They leave their families - and sometimes for long periods of time to travel to areas of the world that most us will never see. They enter conflict zones, natural disaster zones, and health pandemic zones in order to provide life saving services to the world's most vulnerable populations. They leave for work - and may never return home to their loved ones due to the risks of violence committed against aid workers. One such young aid worker that had a tremendous impact on the world was Ms. Kayla Mueller, an American humanitarian aid worker kidnapped in Syria and held more than a year by ISIS, and eventually killed. Her family is devastated and our nation has lost a bright, young, beautiful citizen that only wanted to do good in the world.
This year's World Humanitarian Day theme is #ThanksHealthHero -- to honor health workers throughout the world that risk their own lives to provide health services to those in need. According to the World Health Organization, during the Ebola crisis in West Africa, 875 health workers contracted Ebola while caring for Ebola patients and sadly 509 of those workers died. Yet still, health workers around the world, including the United States, continued to travel to West Africa to help fight this deadly disease. Why? Because it was necessary. It was very necessary.
Where would the world be without our health workers?
Where would the world be without our humanitarian aid workers in every sector?
Each day, we must remember that humanitarian aid workers are considered to be "non-combatants" in conflict areas and are protected under the Geneva Conventions in International Law. This means that any violent act taken against humanitarian aid workers are in direct violation of international humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict) and those that perpetrate these heinous acts must be brought to justice.
I want to continue to support our humanitarian aid workers in any way that I can. Whether it is writing a blog, or donating to an international organization such as Doctors without Borders or helping to raise awareness about the incredible work of aid workers and the risks of this work through social media. This year, we can all support the work of aid workers by going to the World Humanitarian Day website to sign-up to donate our Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds for a day. This way, the United Nations will be able to tell the story of a humanitarian aid worker in the field through our news feeds. The hashtag is #ShareHumanity.
I already donated my newsfeeds for a day - and the UN told the story of an aid worker in Afghanistan and an aid worker in Colombia. I plan to go back to the website to donate my newsfeeds once more. This is an innovative way to help educate everyone on my Twitter and Facebook pages about the important work of our aid workers.
I highly encourage YOU to visit the website and donate your newsfeeds for a day. This can be a great way to support our aid workers and educate everyone on your social media at the same time.
It is your time to be active.
I would like to close out this blog by listing the names and nationalities of all 22 aid workers killed at the United Nations Office in Baghdad on August 19, 2003. On this day and everyday, we honor and remember.
- Sergio Viera de Mello, age 55 - Brazil
- Nadia Younes, age 57 - Egypt
- Fiona Watson, age 35 - United Kingdom
- Jean-Selim Kanaan, age 33 - Egypt, Italy & France
- Richard Hooper, age 40 - United States
- Manuel Martin-Oar, age 56 - Spain
- Christopher Klein-Beekman, age 32 - Canada
- Reham Al-Farra, age 29 - Jordan
- Martha Teas, age 47 - United States
- Leen Assad Al-Qadi, age 32 - Iraq
- Ranillo Buenaventura, age 47 - Philippines
- Reza Hosseini, age 43 - Iran
- Ihsan Taha Hussein, age 26 - Iraq
- Basim Mahmoud Utaiwi, age 40 - Iraq
- Raid Shaker Mustafa Al-Mahdawi, age 32 - Iraq
- Gillian Clark, age 47 - Canada
- Arthur Helton, age 54 - United States
- Dr. Alya Ahmad Souza, age 54 - Iraq
- Khidir Saleem Sahir, (civilian) - Iraq
- Saad Hermis Abona, age 45 - Iraq
- Omar Kahtan Mohamed Al-Orfali, age 34, - Iraq
- Emaad Ahmed Salman al-Jobody, age 45 - Iraq
Continue to Rest In Power
I dedicate this blog entry in honor of all 22 aid workers killed in Iraq on August 19, 2003, Kayla Mueller and all humanitarian aid workers that have given their lives to help others.