The focus of the inaugural World Humanitarian Day, 19 August, will be primarily on commemorating those whose lives have been lost while engaged in humanitarian operations, but will also put emphasis on current humanitarian needs and challenges.
The day was established last December by the General Assembly (A/RES/63/139) to mark the date of the 2003 Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad which killed 22 staff members, including the top United Nations envoy in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and wounded more than 150.
Information packages about the day have been prepared by the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) and include a one-page leaflet, posters, key messages, Q&A about the day, a narrative and summaries of information on the safety and security of humanitarian relief workers and on global humanitarian assistance trends in 2009.
All materials have been disseminated widely in six UN official languages through the networks of the UN Secretariat and on OCHA Online, the web site of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as well as on a web site created by the Department of Public Information, including a 60-second film.
A film featuring a message from Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon will be released for global broadcast on 19 August.
A video message from Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes is also available on the WHD web site.
At the United Nations Headquarters in New York, an exhibition of posters and photographs capturing images of humanitarian workers in action in the South Exhibition Hall will be the background for the launch of the first World Humanitarian Day by the Secretary-General.
Also participating will be Assistant-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Catherine Bragg. The exhibition and its launch, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. in Visitors' Lobby (video corner), are organized by OCHA.
Throughout the day, a three-minute film will be playing in the Visitors' Lobby.
The launch will take place immediately following the solemn wreath-laying ceremony for those who died in the Canal Hotel Baghdad bombing, organized by the Standing Committee on the Security and Independence of International Civil Service. The wreath-laying ceremony will begin at 10:25 a.m. in the General Assembly Building public lobby, in front of memorial plaque located outside Meditation Room.
In Geneva, a special event will also be held at Parc des Bastions at 5 p.m. which is being organized by IASC Agencies, working closely with the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation and the Swiss Authorities. The Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, Mr. Sergei A. Ordzhonikidze, will be the keynote speaker.
A number of events are also being held in various UN offices around the world including Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dubai, Ethiopia, Fiji, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, the occupied Palestinian territories, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Zimbabwe.