Two children stand in the rubble of a house in Yemen that was hit twice by aerial bombardment. Twenty-three people were killed, including family members and rescuers who were trying to help. Credit: OCHA/Afif Abu Aser

World Humanitarian Day 2017 Wrap-up

World Humanitarian Day is marked every year on 19 August to honour and remember aid workers who have been killed on the front lines of crises.

This year, humanitarian partners came together to reaffirm that civilians trapped in conflict are #NotATarget. Through events held around the world, an innovative online campaign and a global petition, the humanitarian community advocated for the most vulnerable people in war zones and demanded that world leaders do everything in their power to protect civilians.

Here is a wrap-up of the day:


WHD Events Around the Globe

‘Stand together’ events were organized worldwide, where people gathered to show their solidarity with civilians caught in conflict, including aid workers and health workers. At UN Headquarters in New York, UN Secretary-General António Guterres led a ‘stand together’ with UN staff and supporters, during which he called for action for the protection of civilians:

“On this day, we also take a moment to honour the brave health and aid workers who are targeted or obstructed as they set out to help people in need, and pay tribute to the Government employees and representatives of international organizations and agencies who risk their daily lives to provide humanitarian aid.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien stand together with UN staff at UN Headquarters in New York. Credit: OCHA/Paolo Palmero

Following the ‘stand together’, an event was held in New York’s iconic Times Square, featuring discussions and calls to action by aid workers, photojournalists and celebrity advocates.

Laura Gómez, actress from the series Orange is the New Black, participates in the World Humanitarian Day event in Times Square, which was lit up by #NotATarget billboards. Credit: OCHA/Paolo Palmero

Events were organized in more than 25 countries and regions across the world including Brazil, Chad, Japan, Mali, the Philippines, South Sudan, Switzerland, Ukraine and Yemen.

In Geneva, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières and the United Nations organized a high-level symposium on “Violence against health care and its implications for affected populations, humanitarian workers, and aid”. Credit: @UNGeneva Twitter.
Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, which connects Kobe and Awaji Island in Japan, was shining in UN blue to commemorate WHD, as was the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Credit: OCHA and UNIC Brazil.

#NotATarget on social media

As part of a unique collaboration with Facebook, OCHA launched a brand-new Facebook Live filter. This allows users to step into the shoes of conflict-affected people by reading their stories.

Watch UN Humanitarian Chief O’Brien narrate the story of an aid worker in South Sudan.

Across social networks, humanitarians, influencers, and celebrities shared #NotATarget messages in solidarity with civilians caught in conflict:

Take action: Sign the petition

Sign the #NotATarget petition, demanding that world leaders take more action to protect civilians. The petition will be delivered to the United Nations during the 72nd session of the General Assembly, held in September.

By signing, you are making your voice heard and standing together with millions of civilians trapped in conflict.

Sign the #NotATarget petition now!