International Observance: Reach out on Humanitarian Day

FRIDAY, AUGUST 19: When natural disasters and war strike, we can read about them in the newspaper—and perhaps we catch a glimpse of those who rush to aid the victims. Today, honor those who give their lives for others in crisis situations on World Humanitarian Day. In only its third year, World Humanitarian Day 2011 promotes “People Helping People.” Recognize the humanitarian aid workers who help millions every day. It’s with this recognition that the UN hopes to promote a wider “spirit of aid work.” (Visit the UN’s website to learn more.)

Although most of us admire aid workers’ service, we often misunderstood just how much danger they face in hot spots around the world. In addition to recognizing and inspiring work today, the UN encourages everyone to help ensure that humanitarian workers are kept safe. (Wikipedia has details.)

In time for World Humanitarian Day 2011, the World Health Organization announced a new type of tool available to humanitarian workers—a psychological first aid guide. (Read the press release here.) The psychological damage from disasters often is as terrible as the physical damage. Now, humanitarian workers are learning more about how to comfort, talk with and respectfully honor people they are serving, even in cross-cultural settings.

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