World Humanitarian Day 2023: Date, Theme, History and Why is this day Celebrated?

World Humanitarian Day 2023: World Humanitarian Day is celebrated on 19 August to commemorate the humanitarian workers or real-life heroes who have committed their lives to help others in the most extreme circumstances around the world. On this day, we honour all aid and health workers who continue, despite the odds, to provide life-saving support and protection to the people who are in most need.

“On this #WorldHumanitarianDay, we salute the courage and dedication of humanitarian aid workers everywhere.

We reaffirm our full support for their determined and life-saving efforts across the world.”


— United Nations (@UN)
August 19, 2023

On Saturday’s #WorldHumanitarianDay, we remember our 22 colleagues who lost their lives when the UN in Baghdad was bombed on 19 August 2003, marking 20 years since the tragedy.

We thank the brave humanitarians who risk their lives to make the world a better place. via @UNOCHA

— United Nations (@UN)
August 19, 2023

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World Humanitarian Day 2023: Theme

The official theme for World Humanitarian Day 2023 is ‘No Matter What.’ According to the UN website, “This year, our World Humanitarian Day campaign brings together the global humanitarian community to mark the twentieth anniversary of the attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, and to show our unwavering commitment to deliver for the communities we serve, no matter who, no matter where and #NoMatterWhat.”

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World Humanitarian Day: History

World Humanitarian Day was designated in memory of a bomb attack on 19 August 2003 on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq where 22 people died including the chief humanitarian in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. The United Nations General Assembly in 2009 formalized the day as World Humanitarian Day.  

This year the day highlights the immediate human cost of the climate crisis by pressurising world leaders to take appropriate and meaningful action for the world’s most vulnerable people.

Some Facts

  • As per the UN, in 2022, 444 aid workers were attacked, 116 were killed, 143 were wounded, and 185 were kidnapped.
  • Of the aid workers who died, 96% were national staff and 4% were international (expatriate) staff – more than half (47%) were staff of national NGOs.
  • Data for 2023 in the Aid Worker Security Database shows that South Sudan has been the most dangerous place for aid workers for several consecutive years. Sudan is a close second (as of 17 August 2013.
  • The 2023 Mid-Year Update of the Global Humanitarian Needs Overview estimated that 362 million people in the world need humanitarian assistance.
  • Most of the violence took place in South Sudan, Mali and Myanmar.

Why is World Humanitarian Day celebrated?

World Humanitarians Day celebrates the selfless heroes who sacrifice their life for the service of mankind. Humanitarians are people who have no other purpose than to safeguard and aid society to live a better life. 

And every year on 19 August, the world comes together to celebrate the honourable work of humanitarians. According to the UN website, “Humanitarians are united by a shared mission to save and protect lives. They will never compromise on humanitarian principles and always strive to make the best decisions for the people they serve. However, Humanitarian work is difficult and dangerous, but we don’t give up on our commitment to overcome the challenges and deliver life-saving assistance to people in need, #NoMatterWhat.”

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Every year, World Humanitarian Day (WHD) focuses on a particular subject and brings together partners from many sectors of the humanitarian system to promote the survival, well-being, and dignity of those affected by disasters as well as the security and safety of aid workers. 

World Humanitarian Day 2023: Quotes

1. “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is essential that you do it.” – Mahatma Gandhi

2. “If you can’t feed a hundred people, feed just one.” – Mother Teresa

3. “To say that on a daily basis you can make a difference, well, you can. One act of kindness a day can do it.” – Betty Williams

4. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” – Martin Luther King Jr.

5. “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

6. “We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

7. “The destiny of world civilization depends upon providing a decent standard of living for all mankind.” – Norman Borlaug


Important Days and Dates in August 2023

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