Jordan Ryan is Assistant Secretary General and Director, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, United Nations Development Programme
19 Aug 2011
Today, 19 August 2011, the United Nations celebrates the third World Humanitarian Day to honour people who have dedicated their lives to helping those in need around the world.
Humanitarian workers assist those who have lost their loved ones, their homes, and sources of income to the terrible toll of disasters and conflict. Many humanitarian workers face danger, live in difficult conditions often far apart from their families and loved ones. Their commitment and dedication advance the cause of our common humanity and make us proud. Wherever there are people in need, there are people at the ready to help – brave individuals seeking to ease suffering and bring hope to those less fortunate.
Far too many have paid the ultimate price for this commitment, and have lost their lives. It is with them in mind that we mark this day. It is only fitting that each of us consider what we can do to help people enduring disaster, violent conflict, and hardship. We should not underestimate the positive impact each of us can make for those in need.
The current crisis unfolding in the Horn of Africa requires immediate and concerned action. Thousands of people are in danger from drought, famine and conflict. In Somalia alone, 3.2 million people are in need of urgent lifesaving assistance— that is twice the entire population of Manhattan. Tens of thousands of children have already lost their lives and more will die in the coming days unless aid is provided to them.We must also work together to build the long-term resilience of communities that now face serious drought conditions.
At the onset of an humanitarian crisis, UNDP supports early recovery initiatives that establish a firm foundation for longer-term development. Our work aims to ensure that people are better prepared to cope should another crisis hits.
On this World Humanitarian Day, let us pay tribute to those who have lost their lives helping others. Let us honour aid workers wherever they are in the world, and thank them for their valiant efforts to care for the vulnerable. And let us be inspired by them to act and together to make the world a better and safer place.