International Day of Humanitarian Aid

by Lina Koch,  2013/08/19

In 2008, the International Day of Humanitarian Aid was launched by the UN. This is the day, to honor the difficult work of the helpers worldwide and to make the public become aware of it, too. The background of this day’s creation was the attack on the UN headquarters in Bagdad on August 19, 2003, when 22 UN employees lost their lives.

They were persons who were prepared to help others, despite the existing danger. Persons who had to find their way in a foreign culture, far away from their homes and quite often also far away from their families. Persons like the numerous full-time and voluntary members of humedica emergency crews.

We will profit from the occasion of the fifth anniversary to explain precisely, what exactly is humanitarian aid and to what extend humedica is involved in this field.

VENRO the umbrella organization of development non-governmental organisations in Germany, which humedica is also a member of, gives the following definition of humanitarian aid: “Humanitarian aid is targeted at victims of crises and catastrophes. It aims at saving lives and easing human pain and is provided regardless the victims’ ethnic, religious and political affiliation.”

The rules it is based on are the Geneva Convention of the year 1949, the Refugee Convention of 1951, as well as the Code of Ethics for international assignments of the Red Cross, the Red Crescent and non-governmental organizations.

From the ethical point of view, it is agreed that humanitarian aid wants to make a statement for humanity, to show respect for the victims’ dignity and to give unconditional aid to people in need.

Moreover, VENRO members like humedica commit themselves to stick to the humanitarian principles of independence, impartiality and neutrality.

Put in simple words: Humanitarian aid acts exclusively in favor of the people hit by natural catastrophes or conflicts. It does not regard the ethnical affiliation, gender or political opinion. It is not interested in government or other potentate intentions. Its only aim is to help people in need and poverty.

According to OCHA, the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs, in the year 2012, about 60 million people were dependent on humanitarian aid – that’s an enormous number; it corresponds approximately to the number of inhabitants in Italy. They all need things like medicine, food or clothes. Sometimes all at the same time.

For 34 years now, humedica has given efficient and prompt humanitarian aid. Since 1979, when humedica was founded, people could be supported in different ways and this through projects in 90 countries. Thus, besides medical emergency and catastrophe aid, the focus has also been on aid supplies, reconstruction and family sponsorship.

At the moment, 542 families are being sponsored by the family sponsorship program. In the last years, an average of 462 tons of aid supplies left the humedica storehouse. Up to this day, we provided a total of about 120 million Euros worth of aid.

The biggest and most substantial projects in the history of humedica were the catastrophic tsunami in Sri Lanka in the year 2004 and the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, where reconstruction and aid measures are still going on.

This result, which should rather be seen as an intermediate result, could be reached only by the unfailing commitments of our numerous voluntary colleagues, friends and sponsors.

That is why, today – at the International Day of Humanitarian Aid - we want to express our deepest gratitude to all crew members and supporters of humedica. Our worldwide help measures wouldn’t be possible without you. Thank you very much indeed!

Please, let us stay together in all future challenges. Let us hope, worry, cry and laugh together. Let us help together!

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