Statement by CEO & President of Project HOPE, Rabih Torbay, on World Humanitarian Day 2021
"Ahead of World Humanitarian Day, we salute the courage and the work of humanitarian workers who are serving on the frontline to help improve the lives of those in need around the world."
Washington, D.C. (August 17, 2021) – “Ahead of World Humanitarian Day, we salute the courage and the work of humanitarian workers who are serving on the frontline to help improve the lives of those in need around the world.
“Despite the immense increase in humanitarian needs and the global pandemic of COVID-19, humanitarians have remained committed, now more than ever, to leave no one behind.
“In recent years, humanitarian workers have faced another emergency: climate change.
“As global temperatures are rising, humanitarian workers are increasingly responding to simultaneous complex emergencies typically characterized by more frequent and stronger storms, fires, loss of livelihoods, displacement of populations, increased poverty and economic marginalization, collapse of health and educational infrastructure, as well as the rise of conflict and violence.
“We must recognize that climate change in all its forms sits as the underlying cause of many humanitarian crises; and as we see greater impacts of climate change, we will see corresponding increases in the need for humanitarians’ commitment around the world.
“The human cost of climate change is immense and those least responsible for the global climate emergency are hit the hardest.
“Finally, while we must honor the courage of humanitarian workers, we must also ensure their protection. Humanitarian worker causalities remained at a high point in 2020 with at least 475 aid workers attacked, of which 108 were killed, 242 seriously injured, and 125 kidnapped.
“Compliance with International Humanitarian Law by all actors of conflict is critical to save lives and prevent deaths and suffering of civilians, as well as humanitarian workers. That’s why we call on state and non-state armed actors worldwide to refrain from targeting civilian infrastructure, including health facilities and personnel, as well as medical vehicles.”
What is World Humanitarian Day?
On August 19, 2003, a bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, killed 22 humanitarian aid workers, including the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. Five years later, the General Assembly adopted a resolution designating August 19 as World Humanitarian Day.
Each year, World Humanitarian Day focuses on a theme, bringing together partners from across the humanitarian system to advocate for the survival, well-being and dignity of people affected by crises, and for the safety and security of aid workers.
This year, World Humanitarian Day brings attention to immediate human cost of the climate crisis by pressuring world leaders to take meaningful climate action for the world’s most vulnerable people.
About Project HOPE
With the mission to place power in the hands of local health workers to save lives around the world, Project HOPE is a global health and humanitarian organization operating in more than 25 countries. Founded in 1958, we work side-by-side with local health systems to improve health and support community resilience. We work at the epicenter of today’s greatest health challenges, including infectious and chronic diseases; disasters and health crises; maternal, neonatal and child health; pandemic preparedness and response; mental health for health workers; and the policies that impact how health care is delivered. For more information, visit www.ProjectHOPE.org and follow us on Twitter @ProjectHOPEorg.