World Humanitarian Day 2015

On this day every year, the world honours the memory of those who lost their life in the service of humanity.

Remarks by Gillian Mellsop Acting Humanitarian Coordinator

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Your Excellency Ato Mitiku Kassa, State Minister of Agriculture,

Distinguished guests from the Government of Ethiopia,



UN and NGO colleagues

Colleagues of the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement,

Members of the press,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for gathering here today to commemorate World Humanitarian Day.

On this day, every year, the world remembers the tragic event in 2003, when the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad was bombed and 22 UN and aid agency workers were killed.

On this day every year, the world honours the memory of those who lost their life in the service of humanity. For a long time, humanitarian workers used to be considered sacred. Their mission to help people made it unthinkable that they would be targeted. Those days are long gone. In the past 18 years, 3,700 aid workers were the victims of attacks. In 2015 alone, more than 100 aid workers have been attacked. The number of incidents continues to be alarmingly high.

We live in a world where the level of human suffering has reached frightening proportions. The number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people worldwide has, for the first time since World War II, exceeded 50 million people and more than 700,000 refugees are hosted in Ethiopia alone. The scale of humanitarian crises is unprecedented.

Excellencies, Ambassadors, Ladies and gentlemen

On this day every year, the world also celebrates the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the globe. As you can see from the banners around us, the theme of this World Humanitarian Day is “Inspiring the World’s Humanity”.

Every day, thousands of Ethiopian and international humanitarian aid workers stand shoulder to shoulder with the Government of Ethiopia to deliver relief food, nutrition, WASH, livelihood, health and educational assistance. These people are represented here today. Aid workers risk their own safety and well-being because they believe in helping other people and in doing everything they can  do to alleviate human suffering. Aid workers accept hardship because they embrace a greater sense of responsibility for humanity and because they believe that all human beings have a right to a dignified life. Aid workers are aid workers because of their compassion for others. Believing in a higher calling is how we inspire humanity.

Your Excellency, Ladies and gentlemen,

Ethiopians are dedicated to helping their neighbours. Ethiopian communities are the first-responders. When we think of inspiring humanity, we think of the Ethiopian Red Cross Society. The ERCS maintains a network of more than 90,000 dedicated professional volunteers who support their communities. The ERCS is the backbone of Ethiopian responders.

And they are not alone. Recently we heard of businessmen in Dire Dawa coming together to assist their fellow community members in Sitti zone. Recently we heard of woreda and zonal officials contributing their salaries to assist those in need. These inspiring people prove that even the smallest community-based organization can make a huge difference.

Your Excellency, Ladies and gentlemen,

Today, on World Humanitarian Day, I call on everybody to recognize that each one of us can make a difference in the lives of others; that each one of us has the power to inspire our neighbours, our fellow human beings and our loved ones to take action to create a more humane world.

Today, on World Humanitarian Day, I would like to call on everybody to get involved. Together, we can create a more humane world; a world where every girl and boy, every man and woman can receive the assistance and protection they need to thrive.

Thank you

Speech by
Gillian Mellsop
Acting Humanitarian Coordinator
Gillian Mellsop
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs