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Humanitarian Aid Day – people at the center of events

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3 minutes

With 274 million people in the world requiring humanitarian aid, another tragic border was crossed in 2022. The group of representatives of the humanitarian sector has been joined by millions of Poles committed to ensuring the safety of war victims in Ukraine. They have become unofficial ambassadors of the values that build the global aid system.

This year’s theme of the Humanitarian Aid Day on August 19 is “It takes a village …”, referring to the African saying “It takes an entire village to raise a child”. Humanitarian crises always generate a global response, involving organizations and volunteers from all over the world in helping to find the most effective solutions together.

In just a year, Poland became the scene of two major crises – the refugee crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border and the one related to the war in Ukraine. The scale of individual assistance, and the diversity of the involvement of the inhabitants of Europe and the rest of the world, who came to Poland and wanted to share their skills, were truly exceptional. Only here were volunteers from the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada who supported the medical team at the border. Not all of them had experience in working on missions, for some it was the first time they felt they could really help. And it was in such difficult conditions that they learned how to act effectively – says Małgorzata Olasińska-Chart, a representative of Polish Medical Mission.

The symbolic holiday was established on the anniversary of the attack on the UN site in Baghdad in 2003. Annually, it commemorates humanitarian workers who lost their lives working in hazardous conditions. This year is a moment to emphasize the importance of preparing to operate in dangerous territory. Since February, no additional restrictions related to entering Ukraine have been introduced, so many people have decided to provide aid to the interior of the country on their own.

Aid cannot be provided at all costs. Before each departure to a dangerous place, employees are prepared so as to minimize the risk and not to put them in a dangerous situation. Also in terms of psychology and coping with stress and a situation in which we see the suffering of others and feel that it is up to us to improve their fate. This type of support is lacking among volunteers who decided to help overnight, but were not ready for what they would see – says Olasińska-Chart.

Unfortunately, every year the statistics of people in need of humanitarian aid break new records, and the problems that have existed for years are only getting worse. Over the past twelve months, the group of millions of victims has been joined by the people of Afghanistan, affected not only by the prolonged drought affecting the previously modest harvests but also by a sudden change of power. Sri Lanka, experiencing a political upheaval, has joined the list of countries at risk of crisis. The problems resulting from over two years of the pandemic, which pushed some of the world’s population to the brink of poverty, have not disappeared.

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