World Humanitarian Day - A moment of solidarity with the targeted humanity

Aug 19, 2017

19 AUG 2017 - World Humanitarian Day #NotATarget

Humanitarianism, even if rarely used outside of its relevant context, is not a vague term.  Being “Human” should inevitably make us all humanitarian in so many ways.  Humanitarianism is the strong belief in the value of human life, whereby people practice kind treatment and support to other fellow humans.

Sadly, it takes much effort to realize how hard it might be for some people to act with humanitarianism.  On 19 August 2003, a terrorist attack targeted the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, and resulted in the tragic death of 22 people including our colleague Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative in Iraq.

Few years later, World Humanitarian Day (WHD) was established by the United Nations General Assembly to recognize Sergio and the thousands like him who work to make the world a better place.  Every year since then, different actors in the international community organize global campaigns to observe WHD, promoting for the safety and security of humanitarian aid workers, and for the welfare and dignity of the vulnerable people in areas affected by crises.

Aid workers are ordinary people doing extraordinary jobs.  Thousands of courageous females and males who deliberately put their lives in danger working in Humanitarian causes in the most challenging regions in the world.  WHD is when we remember these champions and their sacrifices.

For 2017, humanitarian partners are joining hands to reaffirm that civilians caught in conflict are “Not A Target” which is also the slogan of the global online campaign to advocate for those most vulnerable in war zones, and demand that world leaders do everything to protect aid workers.  This campaign follows on the UN Secretary-General’s report on protection of civilians, which was launched earlier this year.

Still, WHD does not “belong” to the UN or any other agency or organization. Anyone can support the day by shedding light on people helping others in need.  There are many things you can do to help and make a huge difference.

Geographically located in one of the most challenging regions in the world, UAE is supporting the neighboring war-torn countries in the Middle East and beyond.  Worth mentioning that the United Nation’s largest global stockpile of humanitarian supplies lies in the UAE since 2006.  Thanks to the hospitality and generosity of the UAE, a UN agency like UNHCR has now the capacity to respond to any emergency worldwide and assist up to 300,000 people within 72 hours from its UAE-based global stockpile.

A new report published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) states that the UAE spends more on aid as percentage of GDP than any other nation . Last year, UAE was ranked first development assistance donor in 2016 which coincided with the UAE’s national theme “Year of Giving” during which the Emirati leadership encourages people to launch and engage in charitable initiatives to support humanity.

On this occasion, I would like to thank UN’s reliable partner in the UAE, the International Humanitarian City (IHC) for hosting a community of members comprised of UN agencies, Non-Profit Organizations, Intergovernmental Organizations and Commercial Companies working as ONE for Humanity.

I would also like to mention the great efforts by the UAE Red Crescent Authority, which plays a leading role in promoting different aspects of humanitarian work on both domestic and international levels and mobilizes the power of humanity to help the weak and the needy wherever they are and regardless of any of ethnic, cultural, geographic or religious considerations. 

The future promises even more challenges. The situation in the Middle East remains on a knife’s edge. The latest examples of global terror, whether in Cairo, in Baghdad, in London or in Paris, underlines the interconnected world we live in. Climate change and global public goods highlights the limits of even the most powerful nation states.

 Join us on World Humanitarian Day to demand an immediate action to protect aid & health workers trapped in conflict and to tell the world that civilians are #NotATarget

You can also find more information, on

Frode Mauring

United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. and UNDP Resident Representative a.i. to the United Arab Emirates (covering the states of Oman and Qatar)

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