August 19 marks the World Humanitarian Day, a time to commemorate the heroes (many needing help themselves, like refugees, members of civil-society organizations and local health workers) who face danger and adversity to provide support to the most vulnerable when crises occur. This day was designated in memory of the UN Headquarters’ bombing in Baghdad, claiming the lives of 22 humanitarian workers including the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.
This year’s edition is the thirteenth World Humanitarian Day, and it comes as the world continues its battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, aid workers are being tested like never before, struggling with the massive increase in humanitarian needs from the fallout of the pandemic and the scarcity of resources as those needs are greater than funds.
The Western Union Foundation has shown compassion to these heroes by providing them support through its commitments and partnerships with humanitarian organizations around the world. The Foundation has a long and distinguished history of helping people in need. Since its establishment, countless humanitarian workers have benefited from the programs the Foundation has funded, helping rebuild communities affected by disasters.
From 2014 to 2016, the Ebola Virus Disease was of unprecedented magnitude, affecting over 28,600 people worldwide including humanitarians who were contaminated while taking care of those who contracted the virus. To support those in the field risking their lives to save others, Western Union and the Western Union Foundation encouraged the entire global business community to support epidemic relief efforts with a goal to reach a total of $1 million in support. The Foundation donation benefited the International Medical Corps to support the treatment of then Ebola patients and training of local health-care workers. We also provided resources to Save the Children for the diagnosis and early treatment of Ebola at the community level.
On August 4, 2020, Lebanon recorded the most powerful and damaging explosion in its history- leaving over 300,000 people homeless, taking more than 200 lives, leaving 6,000 people injured, and also damaging health facilities and warehouses holding much-needed medical supplies according to a report by the World Bank. With the Foundation’s support, our partner, the International Medical Corps launched an emergency response to help thousands of people in need. Their teams provided medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gauze, stethoscopes, and gowns, to 13 primary healthcare clinics and distributed more than 200 dignity kits and hygiene supplies to vulnerable women and girls. Learn more about our joint response here.
India surpassed unfortunate milestones, like the most COVID-19 cases in a single day, and an alarming death rate with total fatalities at thousands of hundreds and rising. This is explained by the Maharashtra region, which includes Mumbai and Pune, two of India’s most populous and prosperous cities, being reported to be some of the worst-hit areas in the country. Hospitals across India were running out of beds, oxygen, and basic medical facilities and were charging exorbitant rates to treat patients because of the scarcity of resources. The Western Union Foundation gave a push to the affected communities by partnering with United Way India, to provide essential aid through medical supplies and at-home care kits, with a goal to benefit up to 5,000 households.
To all the real-life heroes selflessly risking their lives daily to promote human welfare, and providing life-saving support during the pandemic, thank you.
Since its establishment, the Western Union Foundation has responded to communities in crisis more than 200 times and provided humanitarian relief totaling up to $18 million in 74 countries. We continue to support the rebuilding of communities around the world and thank the real-life heroes on the ground helping people in need.