Each year, natural and man-made disasters cause enormous suffering to millions of people worldwide. The people most exposed to these catastrophes are often women, children and other vulnerable individuals in society, as well as those among the world's poorest and most marginalized.
Throughout its modern history, Kuwait has been a center of charity and humanity to people around the world. Kuwait has frequently been among the first nations to respond to global calamities whether it is earthquake in neighboring Iran, famine or drought in Africa, tsunami in distant Japan or hurricane in the United States. Kuwait has also contributed generously to innumerable humanitarian requests from the United Nations and other regional or world charitable organizations.
Every year, the World Humanitarian Day on 19 August recognizes with pride the humanitarian personnel who work tirelessly to make the world a better place and, remembers with sorrow, all those who lost their lives while working to relieve the suffering of victims of humanitarian crises worldwide.
Commemorated for the first time in 2009, the day recollects how on 19 August, 2003 the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello and his 21 colleagues, were killed in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad.
Kuwait has played a leading role in supporting the UN’s humanitarian work in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In 2013, 2014 and 2015 Kuwait hosted three international pledging conferences for Syria, providing an important platform to mobilize resources for one of the worst protracted crises in the world.
In recognition of these benevolent efforts, in September 2014, United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, presented His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, with a Certificate of Appreciation for his role as a global humanitarian leader and supporter of humanitarian causes around the world. Acknowledging the work done worldwide by Kuwait its people and leadership, the Secretary-General also designated Kuwait as a Global Humanitarian Centre.
During the presentation ceremony, the Secretary-General said: “We thank the Amir and the people of Kuwait for their outstanding generosity towards people in need. Kuwait has increased its support for multilateral humanitarian action exponentially since the start of the crisis in Syria. In the past two years, Kuwait has donated hundreds of millions of dollars for humanitarian operations — not only in the Middle East, but in Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan. Kuwait’s leadership and funding has saved lives, and has galvanized others to participate in coordinated humanitarian action.”
Speaking on the occasion, His Highness thanked the UN Secretary-General and announced that the State of Kuwait was doubling its annual voluntary contribution to the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), from US$500,000 to one million dollars, noting that, “acts of benevolence and philanthropy are inherent values in the hearts of the Kuwaiti people.”
Kuwait has also provided financial and technical support to innumerable economic and social projects in African and Asian countries through the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development. Kuwait was also the venue for the third Africa-Arab Summit in late 2013, when His Highness the Amir pledged $1 billion for development projects across the continent.
In addition to hosting three donor conferences for Syria, Kuwait, under the leadership of His Highness the Amir has lend its unstinted support to several humanitarian projects in countries hosting Syrian refugees. Kuwait has built a model village of 2,000 mobile homes in Jordan, to provide Syrian refugees who sought shelter there following crisis in their nation.
Also, the humanitarian project, spearheaded by Kuwait’s International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO), has built two schools, each occupying an area of 2,600sqm, a mosque and a medical center to serve approximately 150,000 refugees who were previously living under makeshift tents in Jordan. Kuwaiti humanitarian workers are also active in many countries of the Middle-East, Africa and Asia, offering aid and assistance to millions of displaced and distraught people.
Commemorating World Humanitarian Day annually honors the selfless martyrs and ensures that the ultimate sacrifices they made have not been in vain. The day also helps mobilize people to advocate for humanitarian action, while encouraging all those currently engaged in providing humanitarian aid, to aspire to even greater heights in accomplishing their laudable goal.
Every day, humanitarian aid workers standing on the front lines of war and disaster, face tremendous dangers and difficulties while delivering assistance to those who need it most. Under the theme of ‘One Humanity, the 2016 World Humanitarian Day is calling for global solidarity with the 130 million people around the world who need humanitarian assistance to survive.
Speaking ahead of this year’s World Humanitarian Day, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "World Humanitarian Day is an annual reminder of the need to act to alleviate the suffering. It is also an occasion to honor the humanitarian workers and volunteers toiling on the frontlines of crises. I pay tribute to these dedicated women and men who brave danger to help others at far greater risk."
Everyone can be a humanitarian, all one needs is a sincere commitment to humanitarianism. The UN Secretary-General reiterated this when he urged people to sign on to UN’s ‘World You’d Rather’ campaign. Besides raising awareness and building empathy, the campaign has a concrete goal of raising money for the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund and enrolling the support of individuals everywhere as Messengers of Humanity. The Secretary-General added, “We need everybody to demand that their societies and governments put humanity first. Each one of us can make a difference. On this World Humanitarian Day, let us unite in the name of humanity and show that we cannot and will not leave any one behind.”