Press release "World Humanitarian Day – showing our solidarity with suffering"


Moscow, 19 August 2010 – Man-made and natural disasters cause immense suffering for millions of people every year, very often among the world’s poorest, most marginalized and vulnerable individuals. There are currently more than 27 million internally displaced people and 10 million refugees in the world. One out of every six people on Earth are chronically hungry. Humanitarian aid workers strive to ensure that all those in need of life-saving assistance receive it and can restart their lives. As United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon put it, “aid workers are the envoys we send to show our solidarity with suffering.”


World Humanitarian Day, established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008, aims to increase public awareness of humanitarian work and importance of international cooperation. On that day, the world commemorates all humanitarian and United Nations and associated personnel, who have worked in the promotion of humanitarian course, and those who have lost their lives in the course of duty.”

On 19 August 2003, the Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad killed 22 United Nations personnel, including the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Sergio Vieira de Mello. World Humanitarian Day was designed in their memory, but also in the memory of all other victims among humanitarian workers. In the past ten years, their number has unfortunately increased: in 2009, 102 humanitarian workers were killed and 92 kidnapped as compared with 30 and 20 in 1999 respectively.

Also in Russia, we commemorate hundreds of humanitarian staff from UN agencies, international and Russian organisations, who contributed to the resolution of the humanitarian situation in the North Caucasus from the beginning of the 90s, in particular those who were victims in security accidents, kidnappings, and lost their lives.

World Humanitarian Day is also held to emphasize current humanitarian needs and challenges worldwide and the increasing complexity of the humanitarian environment due to food price shocks, global market turbulence, water shortages, and climate change. A joint international effort is needed to meet these needs and challenges, which the Russian Federation has efficiently contributed to, in the past few years increasingly also financially.

For example, according to UN statistics, in 2009-2010, it responded to severe humanitarian crisis around the globe, providing in kind assistance to occupied Palestinian territory, food aid to Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan, assisting victims of the earthquake in Indonesia and those of civil conflicts in Kyrgyzstan in Uzbekistan, as well as in other cases. Sizable humanitarian aid was provided to the devastated Haiti.

For additional information, you can get in touch with Victoria Zotikova, Communications Analyst, Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Russia, at 787 21 15 or by E-mail: