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UNICEF in Emergencies & Humanitarian Action

On World Humanitarian Day, aid workers talk about why they serve

16 August 2013: UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on World Humanitarian Day.  Watch in RealPlayer


By Chris Niles

UNICEF commemorates World Humanitarian Day by recognizing all humanitarians who have lost their lives in the course of their work, and those who continue to serve.

NEW YORK, August 17, 2013—UNICEF is commemorating World Humanitarian Day by recognizing those who have lost their lives in the course of their work, as well as those who continue to serve.

It has been 10 years since the Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad when 22 people were killed, including the United Nations envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and UNICEF colleague Chris Klein-Beekman.

In response, the United Nations General Assembly World Humanitarian Day was established in December 2008.

Niate Justin Kamate talks about his responsibilities as a driver for UNICEF Mali.


This year it celebrates the action of people such as UNICEF Child Protection Officer Ildephonse Birhaheka who works in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo helping children affected by armed conflict. In November of last year he was caught in the middle of a firefight as he went to reunite children who’d become separated from their parents.

“We have been many times confronted with hardships and security risks,” he said.

UNICEF Communications Officer Iman Morooka has worked in Somalia and Syria and reported on the needs of displaced families.

“When there’s continuous fighting and risk of kidnapping, our movements can be limited sometimes. And also I have to overcome my fears of being in a conflict situation,” she said.

Humanitarian work is becoming increasingly risky. More United Nations staff lost their lives in the 1990s than in the previous four decades combined. And humanitarian crises don’t get the financial help to match the needs. Every year it costs $10 billion to help those trapped by disaster. Every year they are underfunded.

Anita Haidary, Education Officer with UNICEF Afghanistan, discusses her work and helping her country.


“It’s a very emotional experience, because you see people living in extremely difficult conditions, but it’s also inspiring because you see how people are extremely resilient and cope with the situation,” Ms Marooka said.

Mr. Birhaheka, who says his job is his passion, is gratified by when he can reunite children and their families, and when children traumatized by conflict regain their well-being.

“It makes us feel so proud,” he said.

Ms. Marooka describes visiting Homs, Syria where she visited a school set up by UNICEF for children displaced by shelling.

“To see children sitting in the classroom, sitting and learning, that’s extremely rewarding and I feel very proud to be part of UNICEF,” she said.

This World Humanitarian Day, join OCHA and UNICEF to use the power of words to help save lives. To find out how, follow @UN_WHD visit www.worldhumanitarianday.org



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