World Humanitarian Day
Today, August 19th, is designated by the United Nations as “World Humanitarian Day”. I will be honest – my first reaction was – “so what!”
My first litmus test on these types of designations is to ask what difference it makes. Does it make a bit of difference to people with a disability, living in poverty, that the UN has made this designation? To be responsible I went to the site explaining this day. You can see the background to the “World Humanitarian Day” for yourself. It made me re-think my first reaction. Let me explain.
August 19th was chosen because in 2003 on August 19th a bomb went off in the UN compound and offices in Iraq, killing 22 UN workers. All of a sudden the day took on a different significance for me. My wife and I worked in South Lebanon during the civil war in the late 1980’s. We saw the dedication and risk humanitarian workers take to bring aid and deliver hope. Since then I have been in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and other places where humanitarian workers risk everything to change lives.
I thought of only two weeks ago where 10 humanitarian workers were killed in Afghanistan – bringing medical hope to remote areas in that country. Tom Little was a good friend of Hope and Healing. Another of these workers killed was with Mennonite Central Committee, an organization with which I used to work.
So today, August 19th, I will remember “World Humanitarian Day” by thinking of all of the workers in the world taking risks today in order to follow God’s commandment to love our neighbor. There are so many people living today, walking, seeing, working, and smiling because of these workers being faithful.
Does the day make a difference – no. But certainly the people have!