2011: People helping people

World Humanitarian Day 2011 map

From New York to the Bangkok, Wold Humanitarian Day 2011 was commemorated at events around the world on 19 August. The international community paid tribute to aid workers who lost their lives in the course of duty and celebrated the efforts of aid workers.

“Wherever there are people in need, there are people who help them – men and women coming together to ease suffering and bring hope,” stated Secretary-General Ban at the launch event for World Humanitarian Day 2011 held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Also speaking at the event was Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, who also commended aid workers worldwide and called on the world to urgently scale up the response to the crisis in the Horn of Africa.

At the event, the exclusive World Humanitarian Day song – “If I Could Change,” – and music video was unveiled. The track is a collaboration between various global artists including Ziggy Marley, Somali sister-duo Sweet Rush and Salman Ahmad from the Pakistani band Junoon, and produced by Grammy-award winning producer Jerry Wonda.

Commemorations worldwide 

Across the world UN agencies, local and international NGOs, Governments, academia and the public came together to celebrate aid workers under this year’s common theme – “people helping people.”

The international community in Geneva marked the day with a public event which began with a walk from Plainpalais and concluded at the Parc des Bastions, where a panel discussion on the humanitarian crisis in Somalia and a concert took place. In Ireland, at an event hosted by Concern Worldwide, aid workers spoke about working in some of the world’s poorest countries, while across the world in Australia, AusAID hosted a cross-sector panel discussion on humanitarian issues.

Africa also celebrated World Humanitarian Day. In Liberia, a women’s radio talk show hosted by ActionAid Liberia put focus on humanitarian issues, while in Uganda a public event attended by thousands of scouts marked the day.

In Asia, a commemorative event was held at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok. In Yangon, Myanmar, some 200 representatives from national and international non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, diplomats and the Government of Myanmar attended a common World Humanitarian Day event. 

Events also took place throughout Latin and South America, with academic events focussed on the quality of humanitarian assistance in Colombia and social media tours and an exposition from humanitarian actors in Panama. In Haiti, a range of events took place including a live radio debate, a humanitarian radio quiz, and a humanitarian television programme.

Commemorations were also held in countries as diverse as the Philippines, England, the Central Africa Republic, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Equador, Chile, Guatemala, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

(Source: OCHA)

Real Stories

Last year World Humanitarian Day featured a film shot across 43 countries. It showcased the enormous diversity of places, faces and endeavours of humanitarian aid workers.

This year, we re-visit two humanitarian workers from the original film to take a closer, more personal look at what drives them in their commitment to improve the lives of others. In one story Marco Dormino talks about working closely with a family in Haiti. In another, trauma surgeon Dr. Omar Saleh explains his passion – saving lives in Somalia.

We also hear from two inspiring women – Juliette Murekeyisoni and Fatuma Adan Mohammed grew up as refugees and now work for aid organizations.


Past Campaigns