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Commentary: We need understanding for our humanitarian aid workers

08-20-2010 10:00 BJT

BEIJING, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- On Thursday, Aug. 19, we mark the second World Humanitarian Day, established in 2008 by the General Assembly of the United Nations to increase public understanding of humanitarian assistance activities.

Defined as "concern for human welfare, especially as manifested through philanthropy," humanitarianism has made our global village a cozier place to live in.

We saw humanitarianism demonstrated this year following natural calamities and man-made catastrophes such as the floods in Pakistan, the mudslides in Zhouqu, China, the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti, the wildfires in Russia and the riots in southern Kyrgyzstan.

Countries, including China, sent rescue teams and doctors to Haiti immediately after the magnitude 7.3 earthquake devastated its capital city, Port-au-Prince, in January, killing an estimated 230,000. The international community committed close to 10 billion dollars in total aid to help Haiti with its relief work and post-quake reconstruction.

China and many other contries and international organizations offered help to Pakistan, which is currently battling massive floods. The United Nations, as always, has been instrumental in coordinating international aid, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the affected places and urged international aid.

Humanitarianism also play an important role in helping the displaced. The UN estimates that 27 million people are currently homeless worldwide, in addition to 10 million refugees who have fled their own countries.

Humanitarian aid workers should have our love and respect. They often have to put up with challening work environments and even risk their lives to help others, often in the world's poorest and most dangerous places.

Indeed, the World Humanitarian Day is also the anniversary of an attack on the UN office in Baghdad on Aug. 19, 2003.

In the Haiti earthquake, 101 UN staff, including eight Chinese, lost their lives in the course of their work.

The humanitarian community has agreed to use the day this year to raise awareness of what it means to be a humanitarian aid worker by describing their work, explaining the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence and portraying the hazards involved in pursuing those ideals.

Aid workers' offer of love is not always met with gratitude or understanding. The recent Israeli attack in international waters on an aid flotilla transporting supplies to beseiged Gaza should be condemned. So should the killing of 10 humanitarian medical workers by the Afghan Taliban.

We need humanitarianism for our global village, and more importantly, we need understanding for our humanitarian aid workers, too.

Editor:Jin Lin |Source: Xinhua

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