Message of the Officeof the Commissioner for Volunteerism and NGOs for World Humanitarian Day
World Humanitarian Day is celebrated annually on August 19th since 2009, based on a United Nations (UN) decision. The reason for choosing this date was the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, on August 19th, 2003. As a result, 22 members of humanitarian organizations, including the Head of Humanitarian Affairs in Iraq, were killed. On this Day, the world commemorates the humanitarians who lost their lives or were injured in the line of duty. At the same time, it honors all health professionals who continue to save lives and protect people in need.
This year's World Humanitarian Day is celebrated amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Humanitarians are called upon to overcome unprecedented obstacles to support people facing humanitarian crises. The United Nations’ Humanitarian Day campaign focuses on the real heroes of life, the humanitarians, expressing gratitude to them as they dedicate their lives to helping our fellow human beings, in adverse conditions, around the world. The campaign highlights the unwavering effort of humanists to save lives, despite the conflicts, uncertainty and dangers they face. This year, the biggest challenge for humanitarian action worldwide is the pandemic. Restrictions imposed by governments have led communities, civil society and local NGOs to the "front line". Humanitarians have been called upon to deliver food to vulnerable groups, provide safe housing, and even give birth to children or manage refugee camps.
In Cyprus, volunteerism once again showed its value, during the lock down period. With dedication and discipline, in a very difficult environment, our volunteers were the hidden heroes. They faithfully followed the Crisis Management Volunteer Protocol, which was specifically designed for the
pandemic by the Office of the Commissioner for Volunteerism and Non-Governmental Organizations. As members of a network of support and compassion, the volunteers were activated and offered their services, wherever needed. As a result, Cyprus emerged as a European Good Practice example, in terms of how it managed the voluntary offer.
On the occasion of World Humanitarian Day, our Office would like to thank on behalf of the State, each and every volunteer who selflessly contributed to tackling the pandemic in our country. It also congratulates those of our fellow citizens who offer humanitarian aid and support to our fellow human beings on every corner of the earth, without racial, religious or other discrimination.
Voluntarily actions are taken around the world to alleviate people from pandemics and other diseases, from hunger, disasters and wars. We rightly pay tribute to the humanists, whose actions set an example for everyone to follow. The four principles that guide humanitarian action - humanity, solidarity, neutrality, independence - must govern our thinking and way of life, on a daily basis.
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