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UN Resident & Humanitarian Coordinator’s message for 2023 World Humanitarian Day

18 August 2023


Your Excellency Minister of Labour and Human Welfare, Leul Gebreab

Your Excellencies, Honourable Ministers, Senior Officials of the Government of the State of Eritrea

Heads of UN agencies and other UN staff

Our Media Partners

Distinguished Guests

It is my honor and privilege to be with you all here today on the occasion of the 2023 World Humanitarian Day and delighted to be back.

Each year on this date, we advocate for the survival, well-being and dignity of all people affected by crisis, natural, man-made. We also promote the safety and security of all humanitarian aid workers around the world who sacrifice a lot to save lives. The day was originally established by the UN General Assembly to commemorate humanitarian workers killed in an attack on the UN headquarters in Iraq in 2003.

To this end, may I call on all present here to observe a minute of silence to remember all humanitarian workers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Honorable Minister

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen

Every year, the United Nations encourage all Member States to observe the World Humanitarian Day in their countries under a specific theme. This year’s theme builds on the metaphor ‘No Matter What’ to show that we stand shoulder to shoulder with the communities we serve, no matter where, no matter who and No Matter What. It also shows the value, importance, and effectiveness of working together and the importance of the principles that guide our humanitarian work.

Humanitarianism is not new to Eritrea. We note that Eritrea has sought to unpack humanitarian work and link it practically to the basic principles that guide Eritrea’s development path as a country. The theme picked by the Government to mark this day ‘Collective Humanitarianism’ through social justice, self-reliance, and community participation’ is quite appropriate.

This theme simplifies the importance and positive impact of humanitarianism. We are reminded that it is our collective responsibility to be humane, to practice social justice and to leave no one behind in our work i.e. to effectively serve all humanity and address human suffering whenever it is found.

With challenges like climate change, rising polarization, declining trust in multilateralism, erosion of international humanitarian law, our world has come under enormous stress and humanitarian work is becoming more dangerous and complex. The very essence of humanitarianism is now under threat. Despite these challenges, we have grown stronger over time and closer to the people we serve. We have no other agenda other than saving lives and delivering the basics of life like food, water, shelter, medicine and protection to the most vulnerable. In the delivery of such services, we are guided by the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and operational independence.

Climate change is now a key drive of needs in the Horn of Africa region and threatens to reverse hard-earned development gains in many sectors including agriculture, livelihoods and environment. That is why our being here today to plant trees means a lot to me personally. Prevention and mitigation efforts can help us to avoid additional humanitarian needs and crises in the future.

The climate crisis doesn’t affect everyone equally. People in vulnerable communities around the world are affected disproportionately. The elderly, the sick, the disabled and those with little or no income are normally the most affected by crises including the negative impact of climate change.

I am very proud to be part of this exercise today. I applaud the initiative the Eritrean Government has put in place to make the environment green. I applaud what young Eritreans have been doing recently in the just concluded summer programme where several thousand trees were planted, and older trees maintained by young people across the country. This is a major contribution whose positive impact will be felt for years to come and is a positive example that we can be proud of and share with other countries of what we can do if we involve communities.

I want to thank the Government of the State of Eritrea for its commitment, demonstrated today by the way in which this event was organized jointly with OCHA in the presence of her Honorable Minister. This is a testament to our extraordinary cooperation and the Country’s commitment to multilateralism. We are at pivotal moment where our joint work is needed to promote the Sustainable Development Goals and build a life of dignity for all. And, working together in the best way possible we can build a better future for the good and honorable people of Eritrea, and humanity at large. We are happy as United Nations to accompany Eritrea in this journey.

I thank you

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