This Sunday we mark World Humanitarian Day. This annual day of remembrance came about as a result of the killings of 22 UN workers, including the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General to Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello, in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad.
It’s a day when we reflect and pay solemn tribute to all humanitarian personnel who have worked in promotion of the humanitarian cause and lost their lives following that call.
Humanitarian work is one of the world’s most dangerous professions. Kidnappings, shootings and death threats are all too often part of the job description. It is unacceptable that aid workers are subjected to harassment, abduction or even murder.
Attacks on humanitarian posts have tripled in the last decade. Since the beginning of 2011 109 humanitarian workers have been killed, 143 others were wounded and 132 have been kidnapped, according to the United Nations.
The overwhelming majority of these victims were not international aid workers but those serving in their own country working closest to the local population.
But the work that these brave people do also helps to draw the world closer together by reminding us that we are one family, sharing the same dreams for a peaceful planet, where all people can live in safety and with dignity.
So for me this Sunday this will be also a day to examine our own lives and consider what more we can do to help – to reach out to people enduring conflict, disaster and hardship. Let those we honour inspire us to start our own journey to make the world a better place and bring our human family more closely together.