Virtual Forum on the Role of Humanitarian Action in an Interconnected World

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On Thursday, August 16, at the Digital Classroom of the City of Knowledge Convention Center, the "Virtual Forum on the Role of Humanitarian Action in an Interconnected World" was held as part of activities marking the World Humanitarian Day, organized by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), with support from the Institute of Humanitarian Studies (IEH) and the City of Knowledge Foundation (FCDS).

The forum began with welcoming remarks by Professor Jorge Arosemena, Executive Director of the City of Knowledge Foundation (FCDS), who spoke about the importance of the City of Knowledge for the installation and operation of humanitarian agencies working from this platform. He also paid tribute to the hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who devote their lives to humanitarian assistance.

Ms. Kim Bolduc, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Panama, stressed the nobility and grandeur of humanity, which is always represented in our ability as humans to care for those in greatest need. She also noticed that it was a day to honor all those involved in humanitarian action around the world.

Gerard Gomez, Head of OCHA Regional Office in Latin America and the Caribbean, mentioned the progress on Humanitarian Assistance in the region and the fact that humanitarian aid is an individual effort as well as a collective effort. He emphasized on his dream of being able to prevent people from being victims and hopefully live one day without the need for humanitarian work. 

Gonzalo Patiño, of the Institute of Humanitarian Studies (IEH) of Colombia, spoke about this initiative that was born 4 years ago with the aim of improving the coordination and dissemination of humanitarian affairs. The mission of IEH is to close the gap between academia and the Humanitarian community through partnerships of universities, NGOs and the UN system.

The forum counted with the participation of Mr. Luis De La Fuente from the Donors Technical Group, who spoke on the Consolidation of Humanitarian Action Project in Latin America and Caribbean of the Office for Humanitarian Action of the Spanish Agency for International Development (AECID).

For his part, Mr. Enrique Jair Guevara, Communications Officer of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), spoke about the important use of communication technologies and Social Media on Beneficiary Participation. And to continue with the same subject Mr. Elio Rujano of the World Food Programme (WFP), took the opportunity to talk about using social networking and digital campaigns in humanitarian assistance.

Mr. Ricardo Mena, Head of the UN Americas Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) talked about Linking Humanitarian Assistance to Disaster Risk Management. While Robert Muggah, Director of the Igarapé Institute gave a presentation on the Transformation of Violence: Implications for humanitarian actions.

World Humanitarian Day was established by the General Assembly of the UN in December 2008 and was first observed in August 2009. The date of August 19 is the anniversary date of the 2003 Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad where twenty-two people lost their lives including, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. The day aims to honor humanitarian workers who have lost their lives or injured themselves in the course of their work, and to acknowledge the ongoing work of humanitarian staff around the world. On August 19 several events will be held in more than 40 countries.

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