It takes a village
Close to my office in Brussels, there is a church I’ll withdraw to when I need to reflect or pray during my working day.
It’s where I am sitting this morning with a pad and pen to draft this article.
On World Humanitarian Day (19th August), we remember all those who give of themselves to support people and communities in crisis.
The 2022 Aid Worker Security Report calculated that 461 aid workers were victims of major attacks in 2021: 141 killed, 203 wounded, and 117 kidnapped. These are the most fatalities recorded since 2013.
This is the measurable cost.
What is harder to quantify is the longer-term trauma that many humanitarians will have to live with just from working in such a high-stress environment and the impact on health, relationships, and future quality of life, which might continue long after the humanitarian response has ended.
If only through the lens of the climate crisis, we live in a world where we will fail or have a chance of survival based on our ability to act in solidarity. Humanitarian action and its principles offer a glimpse of what that solidarity can look like.
This year’s World Humanitarian Day theme is a play on the African proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ It takes a village to support a person in a humanitarian crisis.
To live in a village is to be known. It is to have a place, a sense of belonging, and a sense of responsibility. To see a need, share resources, offer help – and receive help in return.
This is all we mean by global solidarity and we need principled humanitarian aid to make it happen.
So, leaving the church, I light a candle for my humanitarian friends from Afghanistan, Denmark, England, Finland, Ireland, Kenya, Nepal, Scotland, South Sudan, Sweden, Tajikistan, Uganda and… and… and… who, almost against the odds, and in the face of personal risk, continue to give principled lifesaving support to people most in need.
Photo by Chris John: https://www.pexels.com/photo/candles-with-burning-flame-in-darkness-4120340/