World Humanitarian Day

Speeches Shim

photo collage of humanitarian heroes
This year, USAID’s partners face the challenge of responding to humanitarian crises amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We honor their service and sacrifice.


This World Humanitarian Day, we recognize the tremendous service of all of our humanitarian heroes.

August 19 marks World Humanitarian Day, a time to recognize aid workers who sacrifice their lives to help people affected by global crises. Since the deaths of 22 UN and relief agency staff in a Baghdad bombing 16 years ago, each year we honor the brave women and men who risk everything to help people in need.

Saving lives is getting harder to do as crises and conflicts grow in complexity, strain scarce resources, and put aid workers in grave danger. At the start of this year, a record 168 million people in 55 countries required humanitarian aid. On top of this, the world is now fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. By July, due to the impact of COVID-19, the number of people in need had more than doubled, though estimates are still evolving.

The violence that is driving many of these crises—including deliberate attacks on civilians and relief workers—is making it more dangerous to deliver assistance. In 2019, at least 483 aid workers were killed, injured, or kidnapped, and the violence has continued in 2020. In the last month alone, humanitarians were killed in several countries, including Niger, northeast Nigeria, Cameroon, and South Sudan. Among the fallen were staff working with USAID partners. Now the COVID-19 pandemic is creating additional risks for aid workers.

The United States has a long and distinguished history of helping people in need. Earlier this year, a record six USAID Disaster Assistance Response Teams (DARTs) were simultaneously deployed to respond to cyclones in Mozambique, the second largest Ebola outbreak in history, and ongoing crises in Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, and Venezuela. Around the world, our disaster teams and our humanitarian partners are providing lifesaving food assistance, safe drinking water, shelter, medical care, critical relief supplies, and protection for vulnerable groups .



The Real-Life Heroes Behind USAID’s COVID-19 Humanitarian Response


Meet some of these real-life heroes from Colombia to Zimbabwe.                 


World Humanitarian Day 2019: Tough Questions for Even Tougher Women