World Humanitarian Day in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Statement by the Humanitarian Coordinator Lynn Hastings

Today, we mark World Humanitarian Day, reaffirming our commitment to the protection, well-being, and dignity of all those affected by crises. The day also pays tribute to humanitarian workers, who deliver assistance in times of conflict or natural disasters.

About 2.1 million people across the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) need humanitarian assistance, the same number as last year but with unprecedented and growing vulnerabilities in the West Bank. Thousands are involved in the effort to try and help them; NGOs might be the most obvious, but they work in partnership with volunteers, municipal workers who repair pipelines in the middle of floods or conflict, doctors, and nurses – to name only a few who act as “first responders.”

In the OPT, #NoMatterWhat means that amid Israel’s occupation, movement restrictions, political divisions, recurrent conflict, and even efforts to denigrate their work, humanitarians are working to assist 1.6 million of the most vulnerable Palestinians. Their commitment to helping others in times of crisis is unwavering. As they provide trauma care, deliver food, ensure access to clean water, shelter, education, health, nutrition, and protection, they often put their own lives at risk.

During operations and escalations, colleagues work to ensure consistent provision of safe drinking water, while others extinguish fires or clear debris, paving the way for rescue units to enter buildings on the verge of collapse. Medical teams venture into dangerous areas amid gunfire and bombing to treat the injured; in the first seven months of 2023, upwards of 70 health care workers were injured, and 30 ambulances damaged.

Experts diligently remove unexploded ordinance to avoid further loss of life.

In high-risk areas of the West Bank, partners accompany farmers and herders, providing safety, thereby allowing them to sustain their livelihoods and food security.

In inclement weather, especially during heavy rains, dedicated teams maintain drainage and electricity systems while most people seek shelter indoors.

Despite these obstacles, they and we are committed, no matter what, to helping people in need. Today and every day, let’s remember not to take these heroes for granted.

Background on World Humanitarian Day

On 19 August 2003, a bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, killed 22 humanitarian aid workers, including the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. Five years later, the General Assembly adopted a resolution designating 19 August as World Humanitarian Day (WHD).

Each year, WHD focuses on a theme, bringing together partners from across the humanitarian system to advocate for the survival, well-being and dignity of people affected by crises, and for the safety and security of aid workers.

For this year’s WHD, we show that we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people we serve, no matter who, no matter where and #NoMatterWhat. 

World Humanitarian Day is a campaign by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

For information on the global campaign, please visit