Every August 19, World Humanitarian Day is celebrated with the aim of paying special tribute to all humanitarian workers who have been killed or injured in the course of their work and also to those who continue, often in situations of extreme conflict, protecting and assisting millions of people around the world.

The commemoration was declared in 2008 by the United Nations General Assembly, in memory of the brutal terrorist attack perpetrated against the UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, on August 19 2003. That attack claimed the lives of 22 people, among them Sergio Vieira de Mello, a special envoy of the United Nations and an important activist of Brazilian origin who had carried out very important humanitarian tasks for more than 34 years.

Humanitarian tasks are often very risky and this is shown by the statistics. In 2019, 475 humanitarian workers were attacked in different parts of the world: 108 were killed, 242 injured and 125 kidnapped. In 2021, the United Nations would like to honor “all humanitarian workers and health professionals who continue, despite difficulties, to provide assistance and protection to millions of people. This year, the celebration comes as the world is still battling the COVID-19 pandemic. Humanitarian workers are overcoming unprecedented access barriers to help people in humanitarian crises in 54 countries, as well as in nine other countries that have been catapulted into humanitarian need by the COVID-19 pandemic”.