Daily Archives: August 19, 2015

‘Each one of us can make a difference,’ Ban declares as UN marks World Humanitarian Day

18 August 2015 – With hundreds of millions of Facebook and Twitter feeds set to be devoted to stories from survivors of humanitarian crises as part of a massive digital storytelling campaign launched by the United Nations and its partners, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon kicked off World Humanitarian Day with a reminder that “each one of us can make a difference” and “ help create a more humane world.”

“On this World Humanitarian Day, I urge everyone to show solidarity as global citizens by signing up to the #ShareHumanity campaign,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a special event at UN Headquarters in New York on the eve of World Humanitarian Day 2015, marked annually on 19 August.

“Help us to share moving stories of hope and resilience from around the world. Help us to inspire new heights of humanitarian awareness and action,” addedMr. Ban.

The campaign, launched last week, leverages the collective power of individuals to inspire a greater sense of global citizenship using the power of social media. Users are asked to turn their social media feeds into storytelling platforms to spread awareness of humanitarian crises in countries like Syria and Afghanistan.

At the event, humanitarian leaders, media and celebrities joined together to generate a critical mass of support for #ShareHumanity campaign, Australian singer-songwriter Cody Simpson, Malian-French singer-songwriter Inna Modja, and Colombian music superstar, Juanes, inspired the audience with their performances.

“Tonight is also a celebration of the values and principles that drive our actions: the humanitarian instinct to support people in need,” said the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O’Brien.

The UN Secretary-General also paid tribute to the 120 humanitarian aid workers who lost their lives in 2014 in the service of helping others. World Humanitarian Day also marks the day in 2003 when 22 UN workers were killed in a bombing of the UN offices in Baghdad. A wreath-laying was set to be held in New York. “Each year, on World Humanitarian Day, we honour the selfless dedication and sacrifice of those who devote themselves – often at great personal risk – to assisting the world’s most vulnerable people,” he said.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), today, more than 100 million people in countries across the world need urgent life-saving humanitarian aid, with nearly 60 million people now forcibly displaced. This is a crisis of forced migration on a scale not seen in the post-World War era, in which a displaced person will remain, on average, displaced for 17 years.

These growing humanitarian needs and finding better ways to respond to them are the impetus behind the Secretary-General’s World Humanitarian Summit, to be held in Turkey in 2016 – his ambitious global call to action to reduce human loss and suffering from humanitarian crises.

At the event, he kicked off the official countdown to the Summit by revealing a massive virtual clock at the event and pressing a symbolic button. The global gathering of world leaders from government, business and communities will be held in Istanbul in May – just 278 days away.

In a message released ahead of the World Day, Mr. Ban drew attention to all those affected by natural disasters, conflict, hunger and disease, whose needs are far outstripping the capacity to help them, underscoring that: “The families and communities struggling to survive in today’s emergencies do so with resilience and dignity. They need and deserve our renewed commitment to do all we can to provide them with the means for a better future.”

[embedded content] Commemoration at UN Headquarters of World Humanitarian Day 2015 . Credit: United Nations

In a recent interview with the UN News Centre, Mr. O’Brien, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, echoed that sentiment, stressing that that, as part of the global team, the UN seeks to deliver humanitarian assistance to meet the fundamental basic needs of saving lives and of making sure the recipients can live without vulnerability.

“The impact of this should give the affected people dignity, opportunities to grow resilience to avoid a repeat cycle of fear and security for families, communities and lives,” he explained, adding: “At the end of the day, every life saved is an achievement in itself. That takes a huge number of people working together and the political will and determination of the world.”

Also on 19 August, at the at the Palais des Nations in Geneva – home of the UN Office and often cited as the humanitarian capital of the world because of the number of the number of humanitarian organizations based in the Swiss city – a commemoration to acknowledge humanitarian workers who have lost their lives in the line of duty will be among the events held on the seventh World Day.

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is mourning and cherishing colleagues in South Sudan who disappeared without a trace and “pay tribute to the many in WFP and across the humanitarian community selflessly striving day in, day out, to meet the pressing needs of the vulnerable, hungry poor in hotspots around the world.”

“With 80 per cent of humanitarian work now in countries and regions affected by conflict, the task of giving life-saving assistance is increasingly, for too many colleagues, life-threatening,” WFP said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a campaign called #ThanksHealthHero to pay tribute to the contributions and sacrifices of health workers worldwide in particular those who respond to humanitarian crises.

“Each one of us can make a difference,” Mr. Ban said. “In a world that is ever more digitally connected, each of us has the power and responsibility to inspire our fellow human beings to act to help others and create a more humane world.”

Will the USA Drop the Hammer on Salva Kiir?

South Sudan president Salva Kiir has refused to sign a peace deal signed by the main rebel movement and supported by the IGAD regional body. Now, his old ally the USA is threatening him with punitive measures if he does not sign the accord in 15 days. Here is the Quote from Susan Rice: “given the high cost of South Sudan’s conflict to regional stability and the security and livelihoods of South Sudan’s people, the United States insists that there must be consequences for those who continue to stand in the way of peace. Today, we have initiated consultations at the United Nations and with our IGAD and other international partners on action in the Security Council to sanction those who undermine the peace process, if an agreement is not signed by the Government within 15 days and a ceasefire is not implemented promptly by all parties. “ (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Nqwlcw))

Growing Momentum to Tackle Peacekeeper Abuse….A new push against what the U.N. secretary-general calls the “cancer” of peacekeeper sexual misconduct, after the issue flared again last week, has a troubling weakness: Countries’ lack of interest in prosecuting their troops who serve in U.N. missions, even though the responsibility is theirs alone. (AP http://yhoo.it/1TQSq3O)

Stat of the Day: In 2012, an estimated 6.9 million women in developing regions were treated for complications resulting from unsafe abortion, according to new research by Susheela Singh and Isaac Maddow-Zimet of the Guttmacher Institute.(Via Guttmacher http://bit.ly/1NsmvH4 )


Mali’s U.N. peacekeeping mission deployed troops around a northern separatist stronghold on Tuesday, seeking to prevent an escalation of clashes between rebels and pro-government militias that threaten to torpedo a June peace accord. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1MvP3P7)

A pro-government militia in Mali said it killed 20 separatists in three days of fighting that the U.N. peacekeeping mission said undermined efforts to pacify the northern region of the country. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1hljUmx)

South African police officers fired rubber bullets at parents protesting outside a primary school on the outskirts of Johannesburg on Tuesday, wounding at least six people, local media said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1J15myS)

A South Sudanese rebel spokesman said President Salva Kiir refused to sign Monday’s peace deal aimed at ending the country’s 20-month civil war because he is afraid of power sharing. (VOA http://bit.ly/1EzLT6C)

Regional power Uganda told South Sudan’s warring factions on Tuesday to put their egos aside and make peace, a day after President Salva Kiir refused to sign a deal to end a 20-month-old conflict. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1J15n62)

A shortage of meningitis C vaccine is threatening to jeopardise the ability to cope with a potential outbreak of the disease in Africa, international public health organisations, including the World Health Organisation, have warned. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1MvPFo0)

Mauritania’s new anti-slavery law could be undermined by proposed legislation threatening the freedom of non-governmental organisations which act on behalf of victims and a lack of political and judicial will to end the practice, activists said. (TRF http://bit.ly/1MvQQno)

Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court are set to decide on Wednesday whether Kenya cooperated in the court’s collapsed case against President Uhuru Kenyatta, or failed to provide key evidence to prosecutors. (Reuters http://reut.rs/1NsnOpv )

A leading international rights group said Tuesday that all sides fighting in Yemen have left a “trail of civilian death and destruction” in the conflict, killing scores of innocent people in what could amount to war crimes. (AP http://yhoo.it/1TQSqAR)

An international rights group has said that all sides fighting in Yemen have left a “trail of civilian death and destruction” in the conflict, killing scores of innocent people in what could amount to war crimes. (Al Jazeera http://bit.ly/1NsnZkK )


Pakistan and Afghanistan must intensify efforts to halt spread of the crippling poliovirus, including better screening of travelers heading abroad, the World Health Organization said. (VOA http://bit.ly/1EzLTn6)

Bangladeshi authorities say they have arrested three suspected Islamic militants suspected in the killings of two prominent secular bloggers, including one person accused of planning the murders. (VOA http://bit.ly/1MvPAAK)

The Americas

Cuba put its civil defense system on alert on Monday due to a yearlong drought that is forecast to worsen in the coming months and has already damaged agriculture and left more than a million people relying on trucked-in water. (VOA http://bit.ly/1Ktq1Mn)

Hundreds of thousands of people living south of the Ecuadorean capital, Quito, could be at risk from an eruption of the Cotopaxi volcano, officials say. (BBC http://bbc.in/1K3xdmp)

The White House announced on Monday new funding to fight the heroin problem gripping New England and other parts of the country. (NPR http://n.pr/1hKnfeE)

…and the rest

Greece must show “much more leadership” to tackle an escalating crisis in which 160,000 refugees and migrants have reached its shores so far this year, the United Nations said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1TQSDUx)

The German Red Cross said Tuesday it will distribute hygiene kits to migrants to try to prevent disease from spreading as they arrive on the Greek island of Lesbos. (AP http://yhoo.it/1TQSpgg)


U.N. should take responsibilty for Haiti’s cholera woe (CNN http://cnn.it/1J162V4)

Secret aid worker: there is still racism within humanitarian work (Guardian http://bit.ly/1WBKF61)

Can the church shift the balance to renewable energy in the Philippines? (Guardian http://bit.ly/1TQFoU2)

Refugees or migrants? The distinction is important and often misunderstood (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1TQFtak)

Latin America Should Lead in Protecting the Planet’s Oceans (IPS http://bit.ly/1hKd35P)

As sex workers we welcome Amnesty’s policy – it will help empower us (Guardian http://bit.ly/1MvP4mn)

Struggling with sexism in Latin America (BBC http://bbc.in/1NqvV5Y)