World Humanitarian Day – August 19
Even as the conflict and crisis situations have become more complex, humanitarian workers continue to venture into conflict and disaster-stricken regions. But the reality for many humanitarian workers has changed over the years. From once being respected, many now are being targeted. Still, they stand firm on the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.
Today marks 20 years since the attack on the United Nations in Baghdad, Iraq, a day which altered the landscape in which humanitarians operate. As we commemorate 19 August, World Humanitarian Day, we honour those that dedicate their efforts to saving the lives and livelihoods of millions around the world.
Here are just a few of the many individuals working in different capacities and in different parts of the world with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), helping to end hunger and protect livelihoods:
Yemen- Asmaa Al-Hemyari
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been labelled as one of the world’s worst food crises. With acute food insecurity and malnutrition at unprecedented levels, FAO has been on the ground supporting farmers through a combination of emergency and longer-term livelihood assistance.
Asmaa Al-Hemyari is part of the Emergency and Resilience team there. For the last three years, her role has been to support and facilitate the activities of implementing partners who provide livestock and agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers and affected communities. Her role also includes listening to the beneficiaries and acting as a liaison between them and these partner organizations.
Asmaa has witnessed the positive impact these projects have had on enhancing the resilience and livelihoods of conflict-affected individuals.
She says that, in her job, she finds an “intrinsic satisfaction that comes from seeing people meet some of their basic needs and being able to be more resilient in the face of the crisis that is going on in Yemen”. Being able to carry out humanitarian aid that helps the Yemeni people to lift themselves out of poverty and develop further is what motivates her every day.
Ukraine- Anatolii Hyrka
Once an academic, Anatolii Hyrka turned to fieldwork in Dnipro, Ukraine six months ago. Now, he oversees FAO projects implemented in the Kharkivska and Zaporizka oblasts of Ukraine, coordinating the distribution of agricultural inputs to small-scale farmers and conflict-affected households.
In the midst of shelling and destruction, he advocates for kindness, compassion and understanding. When “people’s houses, farms and agricultural equipment have been devastated, and when at this time people receive humanitarian support that helps them grow new plants and raise animals – this gives them hope,” says Anatolii. Inspiring confidence for tomorrow is what he finds the most rewarding about his job.
To the next generation of humanitarians, he advises, “It is important to stay connected with the affected population on a personal level, standing ready to lend a helping hand to anyone in need.”
Sudan- Eilaf Abdelbasit
“I remember the day when the war erupted,” she recalls, “I asked the Deputy FAO Representative in Sudan ‘Will we be able to help people this year?’”
To which he replied, “Don’t worry Eilaf, we will make it possible”. Now in the midst of conflict, Eilaf is working as part of the FAO team in Sudan delivering seeds to those who need them for the planting season. These seeds and immediate agricultural assistance for Sudanese farmers is now more critical than ever.
Since joining FAO in December 2022, she has visited at least 15 villages, met hundreds of people and listened to their stories so she can convey them to the world. “Being able to reflect, document and show people the needs of others, for me, is making change,” Eilaf believes. Her strong desire to make a difference and be a role model to young Sudanese women is what she always wanted to do in life. And she feels she is accomplishing exactly that in her current communications role.
Mozambique- Brasilino das Virtudes Salvador
In northern Mozambique, in a town called Pemba, is an agronomist who is reflecting on his journey to serve communities in need. Brasilino das Virtudes Salvador is responsible for managing the implementation of FAO’s agricultural field interventions, as part of the Northern Mozambique Crisis Agriculture Livelihoods Response Plan.
Since 2020, he has been using his expertise to scale up agricultural livelihood activities in the area. This is helping displaced populations and host communities affected by the conflict in northern Mozambique maintain livelihoods and stay food secure.
“Assisting them in producing their own food and reducing reliance on external aid is particularly rewarding when working within the displaced communities,” Brasilino recalls. What he finds the most gratifying about his job is “witnessing the joy and hope in the eyes of these displaced individuals as they harvest their first maize grains, beans and vegetables,” he adds.
The immense collaboration with colleagues and partners to serve communities in need gives him the energy to navigate challenging environments.
No matter who, no matter what and no matter where, humanitarian workers worldwide stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the communities they serve. Whether ensuring that people can grow the food they need or making sure that communities can bounce back from disasters, conflicts or environmental crises, humanitarians are working to make sure that lives and livelihoods are better tomorrow than they are today.
Source: the FAO News and Media office, Rome
– global bihari bureau