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“The world needs more humanitarian heroes” – United Nations


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – “The world needs more humanitarian heroes,” emphasized Al Hashim of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) during a forum participated in by college students at the Garden Orchid Hotel on Wednesday, Aug. 19, in commemoration of the World Humanitarian Day.

“We want to raise awareness and spur interest among students in humanitarian work hoping that they will consider heeding the call,” Hashim told students of Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Universidad de Zamboanga and Western Mindanao State University.

In a video clip presented to the audience, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said that World Humanitarian Day looks to “honor those who have fallen and those who continue to help those who need it anywhere.”

While there are numerous people who have made humanitarian work a career, many are volunteers.

“Everyone can be a humanitarian hero,” said Safia Taulani, also from UN-OCHA.

In an earlier interview, UN-OCHA Zamboanga hub head Ben Pickering explained that humanitarian workers are subjected to difficult situations since they work in areas of conflict and disaster. “Many are subjected to violence themselves,” Pickering pointed out.

“The need for humanitarians continues to increase,” Pickering explained. Statistics show that six million more people were displaced due to violence and disasters in 2013, compared to the previous year’s data. An approximated fifty million people all over the world were displaced last year, including internally-displaced persons (IDPs) in Zamboanga City.

Meanwhile, Mayor Beng Climaco cited the efforts of the numerous humanitarians, both local and foreign who have been serving Zamboanga IDPs since last year. “Unlike us politicians, you are not pressured by voters to serve, nevertheless, you still are here,” said Mayor Climaco.

“Humanitarian workers are those whose hearts, heads, minds and the totality of their persons are dedicated to their passion and zeal to help humanity,” she added.

“Miles de gracias con vos otros,” (a thousand thanks to you) Mayor Climaco said, citing each of the foreign humanitarian agencies here.

Meanwhile, the mayor called on the public to never forget the countless number of Zamboanguenos who went out of their way during the siege in helping those that were displaced.

“They never hugged the limelight, but they still helped those who were in need,” she added.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.