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World Humanitarian Day Honours Those Who Build Our Future

Copyright: WFP/Rein Skullerud

Statement by the Executive Director of WFP, Ertharin Cousin

ROME - World Humanitarian Day is a day of sorrow, but it is also a day of joy.

First and foremost, today is an opportunity for us to remember our fellow humanitarians who lost their lives while serving others. It marks the 2003 tragedy when 22 people were killed in an explosion at the United Nations office in Baghdad. And it provides us a moment every year to mourn our colleagues and our partners who have died on the job since then.

This World Humanitarian Day, the World Food Programme (WFP) specifically remembers and honours five courageous individuals working with WFP. Most recently Ayman Omar, WFP’s head of security for Syria and the region, was killed in a road accident on July 28. And in the past year, four truck drivers lost their lives while delivering WFP food: Abdull Ahad in Afghanistan; Willy Wenagbili in Democratic Republic of Congo; Kakooza Abdalla Yusuf in Rwanda and Housien Hammoud in Syria. They truly embodied the humanitarian spirit that this day celebrates.

While we mourn for our colleagues and their families and take great pride in their selfless dedication, we remember that World Humanitarian Day is also a day for optimism. Optimism because—in the midst of multiple emergencies, displacements and hunger-related challenges around the world—we are making progress and a significant difference in the lives of others.

That difference is visible in the refugee camps sheltering and feeding vulnerable people who have fled violence back home. It’s visible in the classrooms of 18 million children in 60 countries that have a better chance at a brighter future because of our School Meals Programme. And it’s visible in the countless communities around the world that have made long-term investments that are paying off for generations because they had a secure foundation of zero hunger on which to build.

All of us who work for and with WFP are part of that difference. We are humanitarian heroes because we are helping people around the world create the future we all want and deserve. A Future of zero hunger in which every child, woman and man can thrive.   

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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food in emergencies and working with communities to build resilience. In 2013, WFP assisted more than 80 million people in 75 countries.

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For more information please contact (email address:
Emilia Casella, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 3854, Mob. +39 347 9450634
Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel.  +44 20 72409001, Mob.  +44 7968 008474
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1 646 5566909, Mob. +1 646 8241112
Steve Taravella, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1 202-653-1149, Mob. +1-202-770-5993