Tag Archive for: world humanitarian day

Youth in Humanitarian Action: Vulnerable Roles, Significant Influence

Written by Maria Olivia Laurent, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

On 19 August 2003, the world was stunned to silence by the bombing attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq. On that day as well, the humanitarian sector suffered a tragedy unlike ever before, with 22 people dead, including the chief humanitarian in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, in a targeted attack on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI). To remember the losses that day and the significant effort from all humanitarian workers, the United Nations formalized 19 August as World Humanitarian Day. Today, we celebrate the hard work of all workers who have given their lives and dedication in providing support and protection to people most in need. This year’s World Humanitarian Day’s theme is #RealLifeHeroes, focusing on the inspiring personal stories of humanitarian heroes during the Covid-19 pandemic. Events and campaigns held by various organizations worldwide bring together partners and institutions to advocate for the well-being of aid workers. I believe everyone who reads this article is a humanitarian, whether you work in this sector, or you have a passion as one. Let’s discuss what being a humanitarian really is and our roles as young people in it!

What is humanitarian aid? Is it the same with other types of emergency aid? 

Yep, any aid given during emergencies and disasters is considered humanitarian aid. All programs, procedures, and supports are designed to save lives and alleviate suffering during and in the aftermath of crises. The ‘human’ in humanitarian means that those aids directly benefit the affected people. For example, giving shelter and food to earthquake victims, treating injured civilians in war, connecting displaced families, etc. Have you ever donated to an emergency fundraiser? If yes, you can also be considered giving humanitarian support. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) of the UN is the main body responsible for coordinating emergency responses. 

During emergencies and conflicts in their countries, young people are forced to shoulder the burden of fighting on the frontlines for their communities and become extremely vulnerable to violence and exploitation. Many are forced to drop out of school to care for their families. Basic necessities like safety, health, and sanitation are also cut off. Children face the dangers of being illegally recruited as child laborers and soldiers. Girls may also face pressure to marry early to secure their families’ survival, effectively killing their dream and future in these uncertain times. 

Getting Involved

If we look at the bigger picture, even aid workers in international organizations are also subjected to discriminative treatment. Either their hard work is overlooked, or their communities don’t receive enough support to do their mission. But if you begin to doubt if your work really matters, please don’t! We may not have much money or resources, but remember, our voice and perspective are invaluable. The development of technology and education have profited the humanitarian sector and modern innovation on how to help people better as well. Young people’s knowledge of social dynamics and disaster prevention like flooding and climate change help countries prepare and recover from crises. More and more young volunteers are going straight to the center of disasters and becoming agents of change. 

As first responders, we must demand to be involved in decision-making and leadership positions. After all, we know our communities better than others. Organizations need to have a balanced power structure and promote youth representation. This way, we are not only helping those in need, but also improving our knowledge of natural and social issues that arise. Women, especially, as the largest victim group in any disaster, must be equally acknowledged. The humanitarian industry is still dominated by men and often fails to listen to women’s opinions. Because of this, potential aids and programs may neglect women’s needs. Maximizing young girls’ roles is essential in designing and implementing the action plan. If we can start having an equal power dynamic in the humanitarian industry—undoubtedly the industry which revolves around people most—then I believe other industries will also follow and reinforce the roles of young men and women. 

Guidelines for Youth Humanitarian Initiatives

This IASC guideline created by UNICEF and several partner organizations focused on the key points related to services, participation, resources, and data that youth communities can use to develop their programs both in emergency aid and peacebuilding initiatives. “These new guidelines call upon us to give away power; to trust young people and to work with them as partners by giving them safe space to meet and discuss their ideas on how they can improve life in their own communities,” said Henrietta Fore, the UNICEF Executive Director (UNICEF, 2021). Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic provides many opportunities for the youth to contribute by raising awareness, countering misinformation on social media (hoaxes), and mobilizing assistance by being medic volunteers or field operational personnel. 

Access the guideline here: https://interagencystandingcommittee.org/events/iasc-guidelines-working-and-young-people-humanitarian-and-protracted-crises

The five key points are: 

  1. Service – Promoting inclusive programs for all young people within humanitarian settings.
  2. Participation – Supporting engagement and partnership with youth, through sharing information and involvement in decision-making processes such as budget allocation, etc.
  3. Capacity – Strengthening young people’s capacities and capabilities as humanitarian actors and empowering local youth-led activities. 
  4. Resources – Increasing resources for the needs and priorities of youth affected by crises.
  5. Data – Ensuring the use of age-and-sex-disaggregated data pertaining to youth in humanitarian settings.

There are so many humanitarian organizations and communities both in Indonesia and worldwide you can join and contribute to. Each of them caters to specific needs, such as education, gender equality, poverty alleviation, and others that you can adjust to your interest. Project Child Indonesia has various programs focusing on children’s development, especially their educational needs and wellbeing. Through our programs Sekolah Sungai, Mindfulness, and Online Learning Assistance, we thrive on helping children from poor communities to reach their full potential. Check out our website and social media to know more. Lastly, happy World Humanitarian Day to all workers and contributors, and we hope to see you as our next humanity warriors!


Adolescents in humanitarian action. (n.d.). UNICEF. https://www.unicef.org/adolescence/humanitarian-action

IASC Guidelines on Working with and for Young People in Humanitarian and Protracted Crises. (2020, November 2). IASC. https://interagencystandingcommittee.org/events/iasc-guidelines-working-and-young-people-humanitarian-and-protracted-crises

Shifting power to young people in humanitarian action. (2019, June 24). Action Aid. https://actionaid.org/publications/2019/shifting-power-young-people-humanitarian-action

World Humanitarian Day. (n.d.). OCHA. https://about.worldhumanitarianday.org/

19 August 2019: A Celebration of Women Humanitarian Day

Written by Sekar Ningtyas Kinasih, Content Writer
Project Child Indonesia

On 19 August 2003,  it was a day, a moment– where the UN building located in Baghdad was struck by a massive bomb of the terrorist. At that time, there were about 22 people involved in humanitarian missions in Iraq regrettably become victims of death after the bomb attack, which Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN’s top representative in the country has become one of the dead. Since then, every year the UN commemorates the loss by forming World Humanitarian Day. Besides, it is also reflected to show honor to each worker who risks their lives in humanitarian services and to gather aid for people who are facing crises all over the world.

This year, the United Nations is set up a campaign so-called Women Humanitarians to show appreciation for women’s contributions in making the world a better place. They believe if the phrase “unsung heroes” is entitled to be given to the women since they have been working on the front lines as first responders to crises that occurred within their communities and play a vital role in the survival of families and everyone who become the victims. The efforts of Humanitarian should realize that the fact of women or girls as same as like men and boys– have to participate in responding for all crises, without setting aside if women reserve the right to be a leader and decision-maker. 

“It’s very important for women to play a leadership role during emergencies. This can prevent serious violations like violence against women, including sexual violence and psychological violence. Women’s presence itself is a deterrence that safeguards women’s rights.” – Nadege Pierre (33), first responder in Hurricane Matthew’s response in Haiti (Oct 2016).

ActionAid organization that working for justice and poverty prevention in the world, has started to promote women’s leadership in emergency circumstances as they count on the fact that women make up 50% of populations, but oftentimes they excluded in taking part to determine their own future because of ‘gender blind’ still remained in humanitarian actions. This can be an interpretation that the access of women are rejected  to get protection and services that lead to the rise of gender-based violence and losing livelihoods. Beside that, the organization has been working for more than 45 countries and the reality shows that by putting women on the top notch position (leader), not only their livelihoods be sheltered, but also beneficial for wider community.

Women also noted as the largest number of gender who risk their own lives to save others. They are noted as frontline responders everytime crises and conflicts arise. Therefore Women Humanitarian Day need to be celebrated– as it becomes a basic line of UN Women establishment followed by 4 strategic priorities such as; 1) Women can lead, participate in and gain equal benefit from government; 2) Women deserve to have income security and decent work; 3) Ensure all women and girls live free from all kinds of violence; 4) Engage women and girls to participate and become a great influencer to create peace, resilience, benefit equally from the risk of disasters and humanitarian actions. Besides, the UN Women often collaborates and promotes the UN system’s work to all UN Member States (more than 60 countries) through set it up as global standards that is expected to be a potential in supporting Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and create a more inclusive world.