“It was completely chaotic; roads were blocked with fallen trees and electric posts. I had no idea how big the disaster was until much later. For me, being a humanitarian worker for more than a decade, Cyclone Nargis allowed me to apply the humanitarian principles that I believe in – humanity, impartiality and independence – to help the people affected by the disaster,” –Theingi Soe, public health advisor with OXFAM
The principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality and the role of humanitarian aid workers were the key themes for World Humanitarian Day, celebrated today by the international humanitarian community in Myanmar.
Today, on 19 August 2010, humanitarians around the world are celebrating the second World Humanitarian Day. Established by the General Assembly (GA) of the United Nations in December 2008, the day is intended to increase public understanding of humanitarian assistance activities worldwide. The Day also aims to honour humanitarian workers who have lost their lives or been injured in the course of their work.
This year, the humanitarian community has agreed to use the Day to raise awareness of what it means to be a humanitarian aid worker by describing their work, explaining the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence by which humanitarian workers abide, and by portraying the hazards humanitarian aid workers face.
With an event attended by some 150 representatives from national and international non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, the donor community and the Government of Myanmar, the Day was also celebrated in Yangon, Myanmar. The event included speeches by aid workers, screening of a video and display of photos and information material from agencies and organizations involved in humanitarian work in Myanmar.
“Our mandate is to help the poorest, the most marginalized and the most vulnerable, whoever they are and wherever they are. Over the past years, the humanitarian community in Myanmar has proven its ability to effectively respond and deliver humanitarian assistance to the vulnerable people in their time of need. This has been possible through humanitarian partnership between national and international actors, built on mutual respect and trust. This humanitarian partnership is essential and must continue,” said the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, Bishow Parajuli.
Speaking in her capacity as national staff for an international NGO in Myanmar, Theingi Soe, public health advisor with OXFAM, gave a personal account on what it meant to be a humanitarian worker in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis.
“It was completely chaotic; roads were blocked with fallen trees and electric posts. I had no idea how big the disaster was until much later. For me, being a humanitarian worker for more than a decade, Cyclone Nargis allowed me to apply the humanitarian principles that I believe in – humanity, impartiality and independence – to help the people affected by the disaster,” she said.
Another perspective on humanitarian work was given by U Maung Maung Soe Tint from the Border Area Development Association, a national NGO.
“Here in Myanmar, our people practice charity, compassion and loving kindness as our way of life. Our people are themselves humanitarian volunteers. They were the first people who rushed to the devastated areas in the Delta region to help the victims of Nargis not only to offer necessary foods, clothes and shelters but also sympathy and love.”
The World Humanitarian Day has been marked around the world with events, concerts and commemorations.
For more information on WHD, please visit:
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