Wednesday, 20 August 2014

On World Humanitarian Day

Dr Jefrey Levett

On World Humanitarian Day I suggest we contemplate a much fairer world, one without fear and want especially at this time of growing inequality and poverty and of new and emerging threats. We should recall the gains from people-centered prevention and interdisciplinary public health and also promote the principles of disaster management and human security with their proven vulnerability reducing, resilience raising competences for society. All of the above are necessary for a world, seeking peace and human rights.

World Humanitarian Day 2014 coincides with the 100th anniversary of the beginnings of WWI, which was set in motion when Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, to malign the Balkans and to precipitate a post war generation of women without men and men without limbs. In Manchester Cathedral WWI was dramatically and bitterly remembered by Bishop David Walker as a time of ‘irretrievable loss’ as he recalled the mud and blood of the trenches. As he forged a dread and terrible link to Gaza and the dozens of other locally raging wars with their numberless casualties his message was that we should reinforce our common humanity and draw strength from mankind’s diversity knowing that where civilian life is violently cut short at all ages, childhood is impossible.

On World Humanitarian Day 2014 we should better facilitate humanitarian access when disaster devastating to health strikes and be thankful to the international community [UN, UNICEF, UNDP, WHO] for their efforts to fill in difficult voids. If the World’s Health rested within the Security Council, a praiseworthy altruistic initiative, and a lofty ideal and if we can really ‘learn from the past’, then perhaps, the UN mission might yet be fulfilled.


*Professor, Management Public Health and International Health [Athens, Belgrade]
Member, Honorary Committee Public Health, ASPHER, Brussels
Member, ECPD Academic Council, UN UoP, Serbia.

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