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World Humanitarian Day

19 August is the day every year set aside by the UN General Assembly as World Humanitarian Day, a time to build a broader understanding of the role of humanitarian workers and to remember those who have been killed or injured in the course of their work.

On 19 August 2003 an attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad killed 22 © OHCHROn this day in 2003 the UN office in Baghdad was bombed and 22 people lost their lives.  UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay in a speech marking World Humanitarian Day paid tribute to Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at the time and his colleagues who perished in the attack.

“Humanitarian work requires great commitment as well as physical and intellectual stamina. It can be immensely satisfying, but it is very often dangerous, unpredictable, frustrating, and heartbreaking,” Pillay said.

The High Commissioner pointed to the emergency in Pakistan, the country’s worst-ever natural disaster.  “Humanitarian workers from UN agencies and non governmental organizations are there and elsewhere, wherever and whenever needed, assisting in the face of unimaginable difficulties.”

Read the full text of the High Commissioner’s speech.

19 August 2010