19 Aug 2020
World Humanitarian Day is held every year on 19 August to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world.
On 19 August 2003, a bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad killed 22 humanitarian aid workers, including the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. Five years later, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution designating 19 August as World Humanitarian Day.
Each year, World Humanitarian Day focuses on a theme, bringing together partners from across the humanitarian system to advocate for the survival, well-being and dignity of people affected by crises, and for the safety and security of aid workers.
This year, the already difficult work carried out by humanitarians has been made even more so by the COVID-19 global pandemic. We wish to pay tribute and offer the most heartfelt thanks to these #RealLifeHeroes who put everything on the line to help others, no matter how daunting the odds.
Our obsession with myths and legends has been with us since the dawn of culture. Their fictional fantastic feats, embodied enemies and arduous journeys teach us how to dream big and summon the courage needed to do what’s right. But the experiences of humanitarians—who are 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—these heroes of our world are perhaps more worthy of admiration and celebration, because they’re real. As real as the people they help. World Humanitarian Day is a campaign by OCHA, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.