I have the greatest pleasure and delight to on behalf of management and staff of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), join the Nigerian and global community to celebrate the 2023 World Humanitarian Day. The World Humanitarian Day, a universal event celebrated on 19th August every year was set aside by the United Nations General Assembly since 2008 to celebrate the gallantry of humanitarian actors. These are people who have lost their lives, suffered traumatic experiences or survived different threats to life while providing humanitarian service to persons in need. They are the real heroes, persons caught on the web of natural or human induced disasters and violent conflict here in Nigeria and across the world.
The date, 19th of August coincided with the 2003 anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Canal Hotel in Bagdad, Iraq where 22 people lost their lives. His Excellency, Sergio Vieira de Mello, The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Representative of the Secretary General to Iraq also lost his life in the violent attack. The event, marked the epoch of dastardly acts by terrorists and brought to fore the risk faced by humanitarian actors in different parts of the globe. There is every reason therefore, to remember, celebrate and honor these heroes of our time across the world and specifically here in Nigeria where they work hard to save lives in the various hotspots.
The World Humanitarian Day emphasizes on bringing to fore the challenges humanitarian actors face while working in crisis flash points. The theme of this year’s event is on the commitment of humanitarian workers to deliver life-saving assistance to people in need, #NoMatterWhat.
While Nigeria suffers from the impacts of climate change, a more urgent humanitarian crises for the country include insurgency, banditry and nature induced disasters especially the annually recurring floods nationwide. These events, no doubt call for mobilization and advocacy for a peaceful and humane world devoid of conflicts. The world which is now noted to be more volatile due to prevailing complex emergencies that have placed serious burden on humanitarian workers. They now serve in risky environments in various countries to bring hope to the most vulnerable people no matter where, no matter who and #NoMatterWhat. This is the time to show solidarity and commend their sacrifices.
As part of the World Humanitarian Day, we must take a pause to remember and celebrate NEMA humanitarian actors that have lost their lives and those that have suffered injury and trauma in the line of duty. It is on record that some NEMA staff have lost their lives and some kidnapped while many others have suffered tragic experiences while on active duty.
On this auspicious day, I want to express my solidarity with the staff of NEMA, State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs), Local Emergency Management Committees (LEMCs), the Nigeria Red Cross, the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent, the numerous NEMA partners, the UN system and community volunteers working in various hotspots in Nigeria and across the world. There is no doubt that your commitment to giving succor to persons in distress has enabled us to collectively make our communities and the world a better place for us and the future generation of humanity to live in dignity, peace and prosperity.
Despite all the difficulties and dangers faced as humanitarian workers, we must not give up on our commitment to deliver life-saving assistance to people in need, #NoMatterWhat.
Mustapha Habib Ahmed
19th August 2023