UNRWA Celebrates World Humanitarian Day

19 August 2010

19 August 2010

Today, 19 August 2010, the United Nations celebrates World Humanitarian Day, an opportunity to pay tribute to humanitarian workers the world over.

In 2008, a special session of the UN General Assembly designated the day “to honor all humanitarian and the United Nations and associated personnel who have lost their lives in the cause of duty and those who have worked in the promotion of the humanitarian cause.” The day marks the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, which killed 22 people and injured more than 100.

The day seeks to increase public awareness about humanitarian work and the importance of international co-operation. It also commemorates humanitarian personnel who have lost their lives in delivering responses, and those who work to promote the humanitarian cause.

Still image from World Humanitarian Day videoToday, the UN is marking the day by releasing a short film featuring United Nations staff worldwide. Shot in over 40 countries by humanitarian workers, with all time donated for free, the film aims to show the diversity of places, faces and endeavours of humanitarian aid workers in 2010.

Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at more than US$ 106  million.

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