World Humanitarian Day 2019

Today, we celebrate the determination, the sacrifice and the selfless deeds of women humanitarians around the world

Remarks by Mr. Aeneas Chapinga Chuma, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ethiopia

Your Excellency Mr. Zeynu Jemal, State Minister of Peace,

Your Excellency Mr. Mitiku Kassa, Commissioner of the National Disaster Risk Management Commission, 

Distinguished guests from the Government of Ethiopia,



Colleagues from the UN System,

Colleagues from the NGO community,

Colleagues from the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement,

Ladies and gentlemen

It is an honour to be standing here with you today to commemorate the 2019 World Humanitarian Day.  

As you can see from the banners around me, the theme of this year’s World Humanitarian Day is “celebrating women humanitarians”

Today, we celebrate the determination, the sacrifice and the selfless deeds of women humanitarians around the world. More specifically in Ethiopia where we live and work, we want to celebrate and honour women in IDP-hosting communities around the country.

These women, along with their families, were the first to assist their fellow Ethiopians in their time of need. At the peak of the displacement crisis in 2018, and while we, humanitarian agencies, were still finding our way to places of displacement, these brave and generous women driven by their humanity, were already providing support and sharing what little they had. They shared their food, they gave water and they provided shelter to the displaced compatriots and fellow human beings. They are the ones who kept the affected people alive during those critical first few days and weeks following displacement.

As you will see from the documentary which will be aired after this, these women are often themselves poor in material terms. But they never allowed their own want to be an excuse for inaction; their humanity was all that was required to give, and they gave generously. They may be poor in material but are rich in humanity.

And we remember their words, “Even if I do not have a regular income, I gave what I could. How could I stay in my house and do nothing while they were suffering outside?”, said one IDP-hosting women. “I was deeply saddened by what I saw, there were elderly people, there were children, there were pregnant women. I was indeed very sad and heart broken. That could have been me but for the grace of God. I did what I could to help them,” said another.

Today, we celebrate and pay tribute to these and several thousands of such women around the country. Their contribution is not recognized enough, and their stories are not told enough. But we are telling it today. We see you, we recognize you and we appreciate you. Above all, we are inspired by you. Thank you for showing us the true face of humanity.

Before I conclude, let me also take this opportunity to pay tribute to the many actors who work together every day across Ethiopia to provide hope and material assistance to millions affected by natural and manmade disasters. Many of those actors are here today.


Ladies and gentlemen,

You will recall that in March this year at this hotel, the government launched it’s 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan. The budget was estimated 1.3 billion. As we speak, the contributions of both the international community and the government of Ethiopia has covered 45.6% of the Appeal. The government contribution itself is about USD 208 million mostly for food requirements. While we are truly grateful to partners and government for the generous contributions, I would like to still point out that the current level of contribution represents less than 50% of the budget. I would like then to ask for your continued generous support to enable the Humanitarian Community to provide lifesaving assistance.

The government has of course a critical role in addressing the root causes of both natural and manmade disasters and in particular displacement as a result of intercommunal conflict.

On behalf of the Ethiopian Humanitarian Community, I want to urge the government to consolidate peace and security in areas that are prone to conflict-induced displacement and second, we would like to urge the government to continue to provide unlimited access to people affected by displacement wherever they are. And lastly, we would like to request the government to ensure that in managing the crises of displacement and seeking long-term solutions, international humanitarian principles are fully observed at all times.

I would like to reassure the government, on behalf of the Humanitarian Community of our support in proving assistance and in looking for durable solutions for humanitarian crisis.

I would like to conclude with one of the IDP-hosting women who said, “we pray that such violence and suffering would never happen again in our beloved Ethiopia.”

Let us all work together to make this a reality.


UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs