On World Humanitarian Day, we honour those who help others

Tariq Al Gurg describes the work of Dubai Cares, which is part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives

Volunteers pack Iftar boxes for charity. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
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With the theme of “One Humanity”, World Humanitarian Day this year recognises and applauds the countless aid workers who have lost their lives or injured themselves in the course of their work, and acknowledges the ongoing work of humanitarian staff and volunteers around the world.

World Humanitarian Day was declared by the United Nations General Assembly seven years ago, to coincide with the anniversary of the August 19, 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad. It serves as a reminder to all of us that, in the most dangerous situations imaginable, there are people tirelessly working for the benefit of those less fortunate than themselves.

It is estimated that more than 130 million people worldwide require humanitarian assistance in order to survive. During the first ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, held in May, a United Nations commitment was made to support those affected by crises, as well as those individuals who go out of their way to deliver aid to those in need. This milestone summit marked a major shift in how the international community prevents human suffering by preparing for and responding to crises.

Yet, we have to recognise that the world is at a critical juncture, as we are witnessing human suffering unparalleled since the Second World War.

More than 60 million people, mostly children, have been forced from their homes due to conflicts and violence. The human and economic cost of disasters caused by natural hazards is also on the rise. Over the past two decades, 218 million people were affected each year by disasters– at an annual cost to the global economy that now exceeds $300 billion (Dh1.1tn). We must continually seek better ways to meet the needs of millions of people affected by conflicts and disasters in our rapidly changing world.

Everyday, humanitarian aid workers stand on the front lines of war and disaster to provide life-saving assistance to millions of people worldwide. These people brave tremendous dangers and difficulties to deliver assistance to those who need it most and it is fitting that we applaud their absolute selflessness on this special day.

In honour of them, a number of events will take place around the world. For instance, a wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the United Nations headquarters in New York, along with a high- profile event that will be held in the General Assembly Hall.

A digital campaign will be launched to raise awareness of the impossible choices faced by people caught in crisis. Photography exhibitions and film screenings will complement these activities by documenting and portraying the lives of those affected by conflict and disaster.

At Dubai Cares, we join other aid organisations around the world in thanking and praising humanitarian workers for their efforts. All of us highly value the role these individuals play in ensuring that those most in need receive assistance, be it medical care, food or continuing their education.

Dubai Cares supports emergency education interventions in difficult contexts around the world whose success depends largely on the bravery and resilience of the people carrying out the work on the ground.

Their efforts today will impact future generations in the best possible way and I would humbly ask that anyone who reads these words might pause for a moment and reflect on the sacrifices these people make each and every day.

Tariq Al Gurg is the chief executive officer of Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives. Dubai Cares is a global philanthropic organisation working towards providing children in developing countries with access to quality education