REMARKS BY THE HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR FOR UKRAINE, DENISE BROWN, ON THE 2023 WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY
19 August 2023
Today is the World Humanitarian Day.
It marks the twentieth anniversary of the horrendous attack on the UN Headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, when a truck laden with explosives drove in into our office and killed dozens of UN staff and injured hundreds, both Iraqi and international.
So every year, we come together on the anniversary of the date to remember those colleagues. We also remember the colleagues who’ve fallen every year since then, while bringing humanitarian assistance to people across the world. This year alone, we've seen over 60 colleagues die already, particularly in the Sudan and South Sudan conflicts.
But also in Ukraine. We've lost people in 2022 and this year as well. And in particular, I think of the young doctor in Kherson who died in an air strike launched by Russia on his first day on the job.
So if you would, a minute of silence to remember all of these fallen colleagues.
Thank you very much.
We focus often on the horrors of this war in Ukraine. And it is easy to do because every single day there is an attack which kills and maims Ukrainians. But alongside those attacks is the work of the humanitarian community. The local volunteers, the national organizations, the international organizations, and the UN, who come together.
The Kakhovka Dam destruction was brutal and a huge shock to all of us. But from the first day, we were all there supporting the people of Ukraine, pulling people out of the water, ensuring they had drinking water, food and a place to go. And most importantly, that human moral support.
In Pokrovsk last week, I stood in front of the two apartment blocks which had been hit by two consecutive strikes by Russia. I saw the homes that were destroyed, I saw the playground that was just in front of those buildings where children played. Again, the volunteers, the local authorities, and the national and international partners came together to clean the debris and to support people.
I think there's one day I will never forget when I leave Ukraine, and that was the liberation of Kherson. And three days after the liberation, we were allowed to go in and deliver supplies. People were standing in front of their homes, cheering as everyone went by. It was nine long months of suffering.
But today is thank you.
Thank you to the excellent photographers, mostly national, who've taken these photos, which are a window into the story of the world of aid workers in Ukraine.
Thank you to the Member States and the donors who provide unfailing moral support, strategic support and financial support, which allows us to get our work done.
Thank you to the local and regional authorities with whom we work every single day.
And to the Government. We stand side by side to do a very difficult job.
And most importantly, thank you to the aid workers. Every single one of us who have come together, who are connected to support the people of Ukraine. Together, all of us. Thank you. Diakuiu.
Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine
Kyiv, 19 August 2023
* Note to editors:
- Remarks delivered during the inauguration of the open-air photo exhibition #Together, in the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv, on 19 August 2019. The exhibition comprises pictures featuring aid workers, volunteers, members of war-affected communities, and civil society organizations who have been working non-stop to ensure that millions of people impacted by the war receive the support they desperately need.
- Images of the event can be downloaded here.