World Humanitarian Day


August 19 is World Humanitarian Day, recognizing those who have lost their lives working for humanitarian causes. The date marks the 2003 bombing of the UN embassy in Baghdad when Sérgio Vieira de Mello and 21 others lost their lives. A national of Brazil, Vieira de Mello had served in the UN for over thirty years in some of the most challenging humanitarian situations.

In 2006 the Vieira de Mello family and a group of close friends founded the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation dedicated to promoting dialogue between communities and relieving the plight of victims of humanitarian crises. The Foundation awards an annual award to distinguished humanitarian workers.

The 2017 winner is Dr. Rebecca Dali of Nigeria and The Centre for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI) which cares for the victims of the 2014 Boko Haram kidnappings.

As wife of the then-president of the Church of the Brethren to which the majority of the 276 kidnapped Chibok girls belonged, she promotes the re-integration of abducted women into their local communities, even as the communities resist their re-integration. Her negotiation skills and reconciliation efforts have helped the kidnapping victims regain their dignity. CCEPI also takes care of children born of girls abducted by Boko Haram who are doubly victimized and referred to as “bad-blood children.”

The United Nations High Commission on Refugees states that Dali “was the first humanitarian actor to set up a livelihood programme for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and returnees in the Madagali and Michika local government areas of Adamawa. . . . the centre took the risk of reaching areas considered inaccessible and dangerous at the peak of Boko Haram’s insurgency, at a time when other NGOs could not.”

She will receive her award on August 21 in Geneva.

This image was made available for download  from the official World Humanitarian Day website.

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