Mr. Subinay Nandy, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Sri Lanka, Mr. S. B. Divaratne, Secretary, Presidential Task Force, Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne, Founder, Sarvodaya, Agnes Asekenye-Oonyu, Head of UNOCHA marking World Humanitarian Day at the UN Compound in Colombo
Colombo, Sri Lanka (19 August 2013). World Humanitarian Day honours those who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and those who continue to bring assistance and relief to millions. In December 2008 the UN General Assembly declared 19 August as World Humanitarian Day to commemorate the day when 22 UN staff tragically lost their lives in Iraq in a massive bomb attack on the UN Headquarters in Baghdad. During the past decade, over 800 aid workers worldwide have lost their lives in the line of duty. The Day also seeks to remind the global community of the humanitarian needs worldwide and the importance of international cooperation in meeting these needs.
Today World Humanitarian Day is commemorated in Sri Lanka by the United Nations and the broader humanitarian community together with the Government of Sri Lanka, members of the diplomatic corps and the people of Sri Lanka at the UN compound. Senior government officials, heads of missions, heads of UN agencies and INGOs attended the event.
This year the World Humanitarian Day campaign calls on people to answer a question: “What do you think the world needs more of?”. In Sri Lanka the focus was on action. The humanitarian community together with the Government of Sri Lanka provided timely action to resettle over 480,000 IDPs within four years from the end of armed conflict in 2009 and provided necessary humanitarian and early recovery assistance. Emphasizing the importance of action, Mr. Subinay Nandy, Humanitarian and UN Resident Coordinator for Sri Lanka said ‘it is time for less talk and more action”.
Mr. S.B. Divaratne, Secretary to the Presidential Task Force for Resettlement, Development and Security particularly commended the contribution and teamwork by the humanitarian relief workers, international community and donors “with absolute gratefulness” for assisting the Government of Sri Lanka in providing speedy recovery and resettlement for the people affected by the armed conflict and natural disasters. He anticipates continuing and strengthening that team effort through conducting a joint needs assessment to identify the residual humanitarian needs in the country.
Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne, Founder of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement of Sri Lanka emphasized that “helping others to mitigate their suffering would ultimately help us to overcome our own suffering”. He elaborated that the world needs more “positive and constructive action filled with compassion, love, care and humanity to help others”.
Today Sri Lanka observed World Humanitarian Day with hope and expectation for a peaceful future with increased resilience towards natural disasters and complex emergencies.