There is a saying that goes: It takes a village to raise a child. Similarly, it takes a village to support a person during a humanitarian crisis. With record-high humanitarian needs worldwide, this year’s World Humanitarian Day builds on this metaphor of collective endeavor to grow global appreciation of humanitarian work.
“Whenever and wherever people are in need, others help them. They are the affected people themselves – always first to respond when disaster strikes – and a global community that supports them as they recover. Far from the spotlight and out of the headlines, they come together to ease suffering and bring hope.” (UN)
Every year on August 19, World Humanitarian Day pays tribute and homage to the brave hearts who leave no stone unturned to come forward and work towards a humanitarian cause. The day marks the sacrifice of humanitarian workers who lost their lives while working for humanitarian needs and causes.
In 2021, according to the Aid Worker Security Report, there were 268 reported attacks involving 461 aid workers who either died, were wounded, or were kidnapped. Last year also saw the most fatalities recorded since 2013.
At ECDC, we commemorate María Hernández, Tedros Gebremariam, and Yohannes Halefom – who had been engaged with Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF) in Tigray since February 2021 – who were killed on June 24, 2021, as a result of the war against Tigray. According to MSF, their clothing identified them as MSF team members, as did the MSF vehicle they were traveling in. Their bodies were found not far from the car. Read more about this story.
The history of World Humanitarian Day dates to 2003 when 22 humanitarian aid workers were mercilessly killed on August 19, 2003, in a bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq. UN decided to observe August 19 as World Humanitarian Day five years after the incident.
Today, the World Food Program (WFP) said, “The nearly two-year conflict in Ethiopia has left almost half the population of Tigray region without adequate food, as aid groups struggle to reach rural areas because of insufficient fuel supplies.”
Services such as banking and telecommunications were cut in Tigray, home to around 5.5 million people, days after the national army and allied forces pulled out a year ago. They have not yet been restored, hampering the ability of people to buy food, the WFP said.
“Hunger has deepened, rates of malnutrition have skyrocketed, and the situation is set to worsen as people enter peak hunger season until this year’s harvest in October,” the report said.
The report found that half of the pregnant or lactating women in Tigray are malnourished, and a third of children under five, leading to stunting and maternal deaths.
Last week, hospitals in the region’s ancient city of Axum in the Tigray region made a call that they were facing closure due to shortages of medicine and food for their patients and staff.
“The situation is dire,” the doctors from Axum said, “We are forced to close our in-patent service due to lack of medicine and food.”
As a humanitarian response, ECDC has launched a special fund-raiser for the hospitals. Donate now to contribute to this cause.
The war in Tigray has destroyed lives, property, and infrastructure. The siege against the region continued after government forces withdrew, leaving millions facing starvation. The innocent victims – the children, the mothers, and the elderly – suffer the most. In the spirit of World Humanitarian Day, let us do what we can to support innocent civilians. It indeed takes a village.