By David Hylton of ChildFund International
and Jacqui Ooi of ChildFund Australia
Six years ago today, the ChildFund International family lost two of its staff members in Baghdad. An attack on the Canal Hotel in the Iraqi capital on Aug. 19, 2003, claimed the lives of 22 people, including ChildFund staff members Jill Clark, Child Protection specialist, and Omar Al Orfali, a driver/interpreter.
Today, the inaugural World Humanitarian Day commemorates those individuals, such as Jill and Omar, who have risked – and lost – their lives while carrying out their work to help others.
In November 2008, we lost a staff member in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber attacked a passing military vehicle. Mohamad Shar, 52, was riding his bicycle in the area when the bomb exploded, receiving lethal shrapnel wounds. He left behind a wife and six children.
“This senseless tragedy reminds us all of the challenging circumstances faced daily by so many people around the world,” ChildFund International President and CEO Anne Lynam Goddard said following the attack.
“While ChildFund recognizes all those who contribute to making a difference in the lives of others, we pay our utmost respect to those courageous individuals who work on the ground in crisis situations and put their lives on the line,” says Nigel Spence, CEO of ChildFund Australia, a partner organization of ChildFund International.
The United Nations decided in December 2008 to designate Aug. 19 as World Humanitarian Day. This inaugural year, the focus will be primarily on commemorating those whose lives have been lost while engaged in humanitarian operations, but emphasis will also be placed on current humanitarian needs and challenges, and increasing public awareness about humanitarian assistance activities.