By Mahieash Johnney – IFRC Communications & Information Manager in Colombo
21/08/2012 – Colombo, Sri Lanka: The humanitarian world in Sri Lanka gathered today at the United Nations compound in Colombo to honor the millions of people who have invested their time and life for the welfare of another. Organized under the theme “People helping people” the event puts the focus back on the many who rose up to the occasion of making a difference in the world, irrespective of location, race, creed, cast, gender or color.
The event was organized by the United Nations in Sri Lanka under the patronage of the Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapakse as the Chief Guest, along with the Secretary to the Presidential Task Force S. B. Divarathne and UK Ambassador to Sri Lanka & Maldives John Rankin.
Addressing the gathering the UN Humanitarian / Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka Subinay Nandy remembered the grim past that led to the creation of the World Humanitarian Day. The day was designated by the General Assembly to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, which killed 22 UN staff.
“Every day humanitarian aid workers help millions of people around the world, regardless of who they are and where they are. World Humanitarian Day is a global celebration of people helping people.”
The Director General of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society Tissa Abeywickrama delivered the keynote speech, requesting the public to remember the selfless act of giving by the millions of volunteers, staff and members of the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations.
“In Sri Lanka, I believe we have a significant culture and a value system. It adequately supports us to be a humanitarian worker. However any victory cannot be credited unless humanity is secured there”
He also stressed on how important it is to celebrate humanitarians and their contributions, and also to coordinate our work together which would help to deliver a better response to the most vulnerable.
“Moreover, restoring infrastructure and mobilizing returning communities to regain normalcy after a 30 year conflict is a daunting task. It requires systematically designed, well-coordinated and carefully implemented programs. Regrettably these take longer time than we wish for. Being distressed and stretched by those disasters and especially as a developing country, Sri Lanka is short of resources needed for an early recovery. Therefore, I request you to join hands together to approach the vulnerable communities with a solemn humanitarian service.”
Meanwhile a campaign song by pop artist Beyoncé Knowles was also screened at the event. The campaign draws to the attention of people around the world to do something good on this day to someone else. Urging people of the world to help other people.
The event also saw several stalls from humanitarian agencies displaying their work. Sri Lanka Red Cross Society did also displayed the work done by the many volunteers & staff in the field in order to make a better tomorrow for the most vulnerable.
Chief Guest Minister Basil Rajapakse also visited the stall and inquired into the work done by the Red Cross.