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World Humanitarian Day: Celebrating Courage and Solidarity


August 19, 2021 • 2 min read

by Sinead Healy

Today we celebrate World Humanitarian Day. We reflect on the sacrifices humanitarian workers make across the globe, working in the most challenging environments to support the world’s most vulnerable communities.

Highlighting the dangers

World Humanitarian Day began in 2009, in memory of the August 19 attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, which killed 22 people in 2003.

Unfortunately, this attack was not an isolated incident. Attacks on humanitarian workers are common. In 2020 alone, 457 aid workers were attacked: 108 were killed, 242 were wounded and 125 were kidnapped according to the United Nations. Most of these violent incidents took place in South Sudan, Syria, and (DRC) Democratic Republic of the Congo. Elsewhere, in Central African Republic and Mali, incidents more than doubled.

GOALies on the ground

Over 2,400 GOAL staff members work with the world’s most vulnerable communities across 14 countries. Their extraordinary courage and sacrifice ensures that millions of people receive lifesaving support and aid. Among them over 400 GOALies like Nasser are working every day in North-West Syria, in the most challenging environments imaginable.

Read Nasser’s story

Today we remember the sacrifice humanitarian workers make across the globe. We celebrate the lives of 4 GOALies – Mustafa, Ziad, Haian and Nehad –  who tragically lost their lives in Syria.

Focus on Climate Action

This year, World Humanitarian Day is highlighting the immediate human cost of the climate crisis and encouraging world leaders to take meaningful climate action.

The climate emergency is wreaking havoc across the world, increasing drought, flooding and migration in the world’s most vulnerable countries. Time is running out for our planet. And for millions of the world’s most vulnerable people. These communities have contributed least to global emissions but are hit the hardest by the consequences.

In solidarity, we pay tribute to the efforts of advocates and campaigners who are stepping up to ensure the voices of climate-vulnerable communities are heard. Now, the world waits to see if their concerns will be addressed at the crucial UN climate summit (COP26) in November.