August 19, 2021marks World Humanitarian Day, an international day dedicated to recognize humanitarian personnel and those who have lost their lives working for humanitarian causes. World Humanitarian Day was created in remembrance of the August 19, 2003 bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq that killed 22 people, including the chief humanitarian in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly memorialized August 19th as World Humanitarian Day (WHD).
This year, the UN highlighted the immediate human cost of the climate crisis by pressuring world leaders to take meaningful action against climate action for the world’s most vulnerable people. For many of us at the JCI Team, we have causes that we hold dear to our hearts. Read below to find out what each of us believes are the type of causes worth fighting for.
A passion near and dear to my heart is equitable access to healthcare--here in the U.S. and abroad. International Medical Corps (IMC) is an organization that is committed to ensuring those in the most underserved areas, or experiencing natural disasters, have access to quality medical care, doctors, and nurses. From responding to the explosion in Lebanon last year, to their on-going medical support for the COVID-19 pandemic around the world--International Medical Corps is on the ground, ready to help. I also appreciate that IMC’s field & medical staff are from the communities that IMC is serving --too often humanitarian groups operate with white savior complex.
350.org and its volunteers have consistently inspired me in a world that seems to have tacitly accepted climate apocalypse as a foregone conclusion. Their organization efforts in support of the Native American protests against domestic pipeline expansion have been well executed and effective, and their messaging hits the right balance of realistic and dogged, optimistic belief in humanity’s potential for good.
The Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women (CSVANW) is a cause that is very dear to me. The U.S Department of Justice found that American Indian women face murder rates that are more than 10 times the national average. CSVANW specifically has an initiative known as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women that aims to reduce this statistic and advocate for women, as 4 out of 5 of Native women are affected by violence today. This cause touches me because most of my family is primarily female and are Indigenous.
Climate disruption is a monster made up of many moving parts. Given that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just released its most daunting report yet, it can be overwhelming to even think about what it would take to create a sustainable future. Intersectional Environmentalist is an organization I admire because it is community-centered and works to dismantle the unjust socio-political and economic systems that are exacerbated by the climate crisis and continue to harm human wellbeing.
I hold many causes dear to my heart but immigration reform is one that is especially important. Growing up the daughter of undocumented immigrants, I’ve seen first hand the uncertainty that comes when one’s humanity is not validated because they lack a piece of paper. Migration is both natural and beautiful. While it may be legal to punish people who seek a better life for their family, it is unethical. I hope to see a day where we treat all migrants with the dignity and respect they all deserve.
Caught between a rock and a hard place, humanitarian groups providing critical aid in response to crises face extreme pressure when their own country and lives are in the balance. Most of the aid staff in Afghanistan are local Afghans working in a level of humanitarian catastrophe as they face the same needs as the most vulnerable population they serve in providing immediate food, shelter, and security. Reports say one third of the population are in a food crisis, 550,000 are displaced, and 10 million children need humanitarian aid. As they try to mitigate the risk of their duty of care, let us do our part to support them. Caritas International is one group bringing funding and support to Afghans.
With the world focused on Afghanistan, it is clear that we as a country (the United States) and culture need to continue to put pressure on all the countries that are in the south Asian community of nations to pressure the new government to allow individuals to have basic human freedoms and allow for civil society to continue. And our government ought to do its part to pressure other countries to shut down the financial lifeline of the drug trade that has supported the new Talaban regime.