19 August marks World Humanitarian Day. This year, COVID-19 has been the biggest challenge to humanitarian operations around the world. The lack of access and restrictions placed by Governments around the world has resulted in communities, civil society and local NGOs being the frontline of the response.
The United Nations is paying special tribute to the real-life heroes who have committed their lives to helping others in the most extreme circumstances throughout the world. They are humanitarians who are treating and preventing COVID-19, providing food to vulnerable people in need, providing safe spaces for women and girls in lockdown; delivering babies; fighting locusts and running refugee camps, all amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here is the message from Secretary-General António Guterres:
"On World Humanitarian Day we honour the work of humanitarians who overcome huge challenges to save and improve the lives of millions of people.
These real-life heroes are doing extraordinary things in extraordinary times to help women, men and children whose lives are upended by crises.
This year, humanitarian workers are stretched like never before.
They are responding to the global crisis of COVID-19, and with it the massive increase in humanitarian needs from the fallout of the pandemic.
The loss of jobs, education, food, water and safety is pushing millions more to the brink.
Movement restrictions to slow the spread of the virus have meant that communities, civil society and local organizations – as so often before – are the very first responders.
This year, we celebrate them: people who are often in need themselves, like refugees helping host communities, local health workers who care for the sick and vaccinate children, and humanitarians who negotiate access in areas of conflict to bring food, water and medicine.
They are the unsung heroes of the pandemic response – and they all too often risk their own lives to save the lives of others.
Today, join me in renewing our appreciation and support for the brave humanitarians, health workers and first responders who show solidarity and humanity in this time of unprecedented need".
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