UN World Humanitarian Day

UN World Humanitarian Day

What risks do people face when they are in countries at war? And why are humanitarian workers a target for attacks? The UN's World Humanitarian Day puts the focus on these important questions.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.


'No one is winning these wars. We are all losing.'
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

At the United Nations, 19 August is a day to reflect. It was on this day in 2003 that the UN building in Baghdad was hit by an enormous terrorist bomb. Most of the 22 people who died in the attack had been involved in humanitarian missions in Iraq. Among the dead was Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN's top representative in the country. Every year, the UN commemorates the loss by observing World Humanitarian Day.

What is the objective of World Humanitarian Day?

This is a day to remember the brave humanitarian workers whose daily work can involve terrible dangers and even a risk to their lives. However, it is also a day to build public support for the people at the centre of this humanitarian work: the many millions of civilians around the world whose lives have been affected by conflict. Therefore, 19 August is a day to ask world leaders to commit to protecting vulnerable civilians and to do more to end conflicts in the world.

Where do these conflicts exist?

The UN has recently reported that, at the time of writing, the world's worst humanitarian crisis is in Yemen. Due to war and a shortage of food, it is said that up to 75 per cent of the population (that's about 22 million people) are in need of humanitarian aid and protection. Meanwhile, wars continue in Syria and South Sudan and these are just a few of the countries where conflict is forcing people to live in extreme difficulty or to become refugees.

What risks do humanitarian workers face?

Humanitarian workers must often risk their own lives to provide civilians with food, shelter or healthcare. Sometimes these workers are attacked by people who want to steal food or medicine. Many conflict zones also have big problems with political or terrorist groups who see humanitarian workers as an ideal target to get international attention.

What is #notatarget?

In recent years, the UN has promoted this online hashtag. Its message is very clear. Humanitarian workers have just one mission: to help people in need. And they should be able to do this in safe conditions. They should not be a target. At the same time, these workers travel to very dangerous places to provide aid for innocent civilians who have not chosen to live in conflict. The hashtag also implies that civilians should not be a target.

What can I do?

It may seem as if the problems of the world are impossible to fix, but there are a few things that you can do to help in some way. As a first step, inform yourself about the major humanitarian problems that the world is facing at the moment. With a quick online search, you will probably also find online petitions asking global leaders to increase their help for civilians in conflict zones and for the refugees that come from these situations. Or if you would prefer to help in a more practical way, try following the advice from previous campaigns for World Humanitarian Day: do something good, somewhere, for someone else.

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Submitted by bahadirdmrkn on Thu, 17/08/2023 - 09:45


When i was a child me and my family faced to very strong eartquake and we had to live outyard a few weeks. We and all other people that was affected by earthquake were in need everything that you can imagine forexample food,shelter,healtcare, shower and also hygenic toilettes. Therefore i can image how those people feel and what they need for. Humanitarian workers and what they do for those people are very valuable. We should help to those people to figure it out their bad situtions in some kind of way.

Submitted by Sara.l on Sat, 12/08/2023 - 16:23


I don't think I'll work as a humanitarian, but I can help in other ways like providing them financialy or with goods. Because it is a hard work and needs high awareness and professional workers. Anything good can sustain this helping cycle.
For instance when my friends are experiencing hard time, I help them or donate some money and clothes once in a while.

Submitted by Janelyy on Mon, 22/05/2023 - 04:07


I really want to have the chance to become a humanitarian worker one time in my life. Although this work puts me at risk in my own lives to provide food, shelter and healthcare to innocent civilians and refugees, it is so meaningful to share aid and love to needed people. We also can be attacked by people wanting to steal food and medicine or become targets of political and terrorist groups. I hope that global leaders can take more actions to protect civilian’s peace and we are ready to suffer from living in extreme difficulty because many people are in need of our help.

Submitted by PARIMALA MADIAZHAKAN on Tue, 23/02/2021 - 03:56

A simple way that we can 'do something good is just share foods and help the poorest people around us. It's the best way to do something good for others. For example, we can our foods for our relative who have in famine situations. If we financially strong , we can help those are in poor. We not need give them our full of financial support. But at least help them to overcome their bad situations. This kind of help lead us to good things. Yes , I like to work as a humanitarian worker. If in future I get opportunity to work as humanitarian ,I definitely involve myself in this matter.

Submitted by Thinthinmyoe on Wed, 27/01/2021 - 04:59

We can share food and money to people in need by using online banking through the organizations of humanitarian.
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Submitted by danisep on Mon, 28/12/2020 - 17:09

we can help now in many ways, people around us maybe a neighbor or a relative could be through a bad moment due pandemic, so we can give food, clothes, money or our work to some local organization which needs a hand. Sometimes it feels like we don't have enough but indeed we have some privileges, there are people facing terrible and unimaginable problems.

Submitted by cittàutopica on Thu, 10/12/2020 - 16:08

Regarding the question, I would have liked to work as a humanitarian worker if I had been young, but we must be aware that it's a very difficult job, which demands a high level of professionalism. Everyone can do something for helping the humanitarian work: by offering help (monetary or in kind) to humanitarian organisations, by taking part in campaigns or in petitions, etc.

Submitted by Lilly098 on Thu, 05/11/2020 - 18:36

The simple way I always commit to do for someone else is donation; I normally collect all the clothes I rarely wear and donate it once a year. If I had a chance, I absolutely would like to work as a humanitarian worker. I believe a small change can make a big change. I want to do as many help as I can provide.

Hello sally samy,

One way to help does not mean the same as the only way to help.

There are many ways to help; one of them is to sign an online campaign. Thus, the statement is true.



The LearnEnglish Team