World Humanitarian Day

Published on 19.08.2023

For 15 years, every 19 August, the international community has honoured the humanitarian workers around the world who, in extreme and often life-threatening situations, protect children at risk and respond to the urgent needs of families and communities in distress. At SOS Villages d’Enfants Monde, we naturally join in this tribute and think warmly of our SOS colleagues working in the field to provide vital services and essential support during and after the ever-increasing number and complexity of crises, protecting first and foremost the most vulnerable, the children who need extra care and attention.

In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly established an International Humanitarian Day. The date was set in connection with the deadly attack on 19 August 2003 on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. As 2023 marks the twentieth anniversary of this tragedy, the United Nations recalls the unwavering commitment of humanitarian workers to act according to humanitarian principles to help people at risk, “the communities we serve, whoever they are, wherever they are, whatever happens” (#WhateverHappens).

An SOS worker with a child in Ethiopia, a country hard hit by drought and conflicts © Noor Khamis

One child in six lives in a conflict zone

As SOS Children’s Villages International reminds us at the time of its 2022 review, more than 450 million children around the world (one in six) live in a conflict zone. 43 million have been displaced from their homes and at least 153,000 of them were unaccompanied or separated from their families. In 2022, the number of children in need of humanitarian aid increased by 20%. In addition, by the end of 2022, 10.7 million children had lost their primary or secondary guardians as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. Throughout the past year, SOS teams, together with their partners, responded to the pressing needs of children, families and communities in 31 countries and territories, in 25 emergency situations more specifically through child protection activities.

Nine emergency response programmes supported from Luxembourg in 2022

From Luxembourg, we supported nine emergency and resilience projects in 2022, and this year we remain committed, notably in Colombia (for Venezuelan migrant families), Ethiopia (for populations suffering from malnutrition, mainly young children and pregnant or breast-feeding women), in Madagascar (for populations facing famine and climatic emergencies), in the Central African Republic (for very vulnerable schoolchildren and internally displaced populations) and in Ukraine (for children and families who are victims of war).

Distribution of in-kind help to families in Kyiv Region© Ksenia Borisova

A world plagued by polycrisis

Today, as in the past, crises are multiplying and needs are increasing, from Ukraine to Ethiopia, from Yemen to Haiti, from Sudan to Afghanistan. At a time when we are talking about polycrisis, multiple and simultaneous crises that are highly interconnected and have disastrous effects on the most vulnerable, the challenges of meeting the needs of children deprived of parental care or at risk of losing it are enormous.

“Polycrisis is now a major factor disrupting the lives of many communities around the world, not only on the poorest continent, Africa, but also in Asia, Latin America and here in Europe”.

Dereje Wordofa, president of SOS Children’s Villages International

A tribute to humanitarians in video

On August 19, we celebrate those who make a difference by caring for children and helping families affected by emergencies and countless crises, both visible and invisible, that disrupt the lives of children and families. Let us honour their dedication and courage in helping others. Here is a short video created by our colleagues for this very special day.

Thank you to all the teams involved in the field!

Thank you for working alongside us to provide the best possible support!

VIDEO © Lydia Mantler


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