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Kuwait commemorates World Humanitarian Day
August 19, 2017, 2:09 pm

United Nations World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is held each year on 19 August to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service around the world, raise awareness and support for global crises and the people affected by these calamities.

The UN General Assembly designated 19 August as World Humanitarian Day to commemorate the day in 2003, when 22 people, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top UN representative in Iraq, were killed in a terrorist bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad. Since 2008, when the WHD was formally designated by the UN, the international humanitarian community has organized campaigns to commemorate WHD, advocating for the safety and security of humanitarian aid workers, and for the survival, well-being and dignity of people affected by crises.

In a statement on the occasion of WHD 2017, the United Nations noted that around the world conflict has been exacting a massive toll on people’s lives. “Trapped in wars that are not of their making, millions of civilians are forced to hide or run for their lives. Children are taken out of school, families are displaced from their homes, and communities are torn apart, while the world is not doing enough to stop their suffering. At the same time, health and aid workers — who risk their lives to care for people affected by violence — are increasingly being targeted,” said the UN.

In a report launched earlier this year on the protection of civilians, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for enhanced respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, and protection of civilians, including humanitarian and medical workers as well as civilian infrastructure.

As the international community marks WHD, Kuwait continues to exert all efforts to provide sustenance and humanitarian aid to all those in need around the world.

Since the ascension of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to the leadership of Kuwait in 2006, the country has been in the forefront of humanitarian initiatives aimed at alleviating the pain and suffering of the disadvantaged and needy everywhere. In recognition of this humanitarian role, the UN in 2014 honored His Highness the Amir as a global humanitarian leader and designated Kuwait as a center of humanitarian aid.

On the regional level, Kuwait has hosted three donors conference for Syria from 2013-15, donating US$1.3 billion in the process. The fourth conference for Syria, hosted in London, saw Kuwait donating an additional sum of $300 million to help humanitarian efforts in Syria. Alongside government efforts, Kuwaiti charitable societies and relief aid organizations also took part in helping the Syrians to overcome their dire situation.

Kuwait, through His Highness the Amir, also contributed to international humanitarian conferences. His Highness Sheikh Sabah took part in the 2016 humanitarian summit in Istanbul. During the summit, His Highness the Amir highlighted his country's contributions to humanitarian causes around the world, noting that the State of Kuwait had offered over one billion dollars in the last five years to support global humanitarian efforts. Most of the allocated sums were delivered to the needy suffering from wars in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and Yemen.

In Yemen, Kuwait announced in 2015 a generous donation of $100 million for the Yemeni people suffering from the ills of civil war. While on the level of the Palestinian cause, Kuwait has always supported the rights of the Palestinian people. In 2009, Kuwait donated $34 million to cover the expenses of operations carried out by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In 2013, Kuwait delivered $15 million to help the Palestinians and in 2014 launched a relief aid campaign for the Gaza Strip, following the brutal Israeli operations in July of that year.

Last week, Kuwait donated a further sum of $2.2 million to the UNRWA, as part of its annual financial aid to support the UN organization. Handing over the donation to the UNRWA, Kuwait's Ambassador to Jordan Dr. Hamad Al-Duaij said the financial aid represented an earnest desire to help out the Palestinian people, many of whom live in misery.  For her part, the UNRWA Director-General Maria Mohammadi, described the aid as critical and said it would go a long way in granting Palestinians access to basic necessities, while also serving as a reminder of the plight of refugees.

In Iraq, Kuwait continues it humanitarian efforts, offering in 2015 a sum of $200 million to displaced Iraqis and pledging $176 million during an Iraqi aid conference held in Washington in 2016. And, in 2017, following the victory by Iraqi government and allies over terrorist organizations in Mosul and elsewhere, Kuwait launched several campaigns providing relief aid and necessities to those who sought shelter from these conflict zones.

Kuwait has also been a major contributor of relief aid during times of natural disasters and disease outbreaks around the world. The country has over the years offered millions of dollars to various countries, which were affected by the devastating forces of nature. The Kuwaiti humanitarian hand was extended to those who suffered from natural disasters in Japan, the Philippines, Turkey, Somalia, and other nations.

World Humanitarian Day is a time to recognize all those aid workers around the world who face danger and adversity in order to help those affected by crises and calamities.

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