MANY societies across the globe are in need of humanitarian aid as a result of both man-made and natural disasters.

The annual commemoration of the World Humanitarian Day, on August 19, is a reminder there is need for the world to come together for the purpose of saving lives, easing suffering and maintaining dignity.

According to the UN official website, the theme for this year’s World Humanitarian Day is ‘#theHumanRace’.

The theme is a global challenge that pushes for climate action in solidarity with people who need it the most.

In a statement, the official UN website noted: “The climate emergency is wreaking havoc across the world at a scale that people on the front lines and in the humanitarian community cannot manage. 

Time is already running out for the world’s most vulnerable people – those who have contributed least to the global climate emergency yet are hit the hardest – and millions of others that are already losing their homes, their livelihoods and their lives.”

There is no doubt climate change is one of the greatest threats to existence.

The UN further notes: “World Humanitarian Day 2021 will  highlight the immediate cost of climate crisis and pressure world leaders to take meaningful climate action for the world’s most vulnerable people.”

Sentiments by the UN show the urgent need for global co-operation in ensuring that climate change-related problems are alleviated.

Mitigation of climate change requires a combined effort of both developed and developing nations.

“The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win,” said UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres.

The situation in Haiti is clear testimony of how climate change is causing severe damage to the human race and the environment.

Undoubtedly, the recent 7.2-magnitude earthquake has left Haiti shattered and the heavy rains brought by Tropical Storm Grace were hampering rescue missions.    

With thousands of people left homeless, close to 2 000 dead and thousands injured, the need for humanitarian aid in Haiti cannot be overemphasised. 

In Zimbabwe, storms like the devastating Cyclone Idai which left a horrific trail, especially in the Eastern Highlands, will always be a reminder of the devastating effects of climate change.

In that regard, it is imperative for governments to come up with strategies that lessen the effects of climate change in their societies.

In Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) leads in training its human resource for disaster preparedness and response.

In her book Climate Change in Zimbabwe: Facts and Planners and Decision Maker, Anna Brazier warns that climate change will reshape societies and change the actual world as we know it. 

Writes Brazier: “Climate change could also reverse many of the development gains made by African countries during recent decades and could hamper development efforts.

The average atmospheric and ocean temperatures across the earth will rise due to climate change. 

This will cause widespread melting of snow and ice at the poles. The extra water from this melting will cause sea levels to rise and weather patterns to change across the planet. 

Extreme events, including storms, drought and floods will be more frequent.”

Due to such effects, said Brazier, many societies will have their food security, health, energy supply and economies affected.

Humanitarian aid is, therefore, needed, especially in poor countries facing problems emanating from climate change. 

Certainly, aid must not be politicised in order to ensure a smooth beginning for people affected by climate change.

According to the UN, 235 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2021.

The World Humanitarian Day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) as part of a resolution of the ‘Co-ordination of Emergency Assistance of the UN’. 

The day is also marked to remember and honour special representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Meillo, and 22 aid workers who were killed in a bombing of UN Headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, on August 19 2003.

It was after this tragedy that the UNGA designated August 19 World Humanitarian Day in 2009.


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