World Humanitarian Day Marked in Ghana

Accra – The United Nations system in Ghana with its partners on Thursday, 19th August 2010 commemorated World Humanitarian Day. The ceremony included lighting of Candles and the mentioning of the names of those who have lost their lives in pursuit of humanitarian services. Two Ghanaians, WO1 Francis Annana and Major Lawrence Mefful (rtd) who lost their lives in the course of duty were mentioned and honoured by lighting candles in their memory.

A candle lit by the Ag. UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Elizabeth Moundo, Mr. Ebenezer Dosoo, Deputy National Coordinator(NADMO) and Ms. Mercy Manyala, Head of UN-OCHA, Ghana in honour of those who lost their lives

The Acting UN Resident Coordinator, and UNESCO Sub-Regional Cluster Director, Ms. Elizabeth Moundo read the Secretary-General’s message and presented the situation analysis of humanitarian issues in Ghana. She noted that in June/July 2010, there were torrential rains in the Greater Accra, Central, Western, Volta and Eastern Regions which resulted in severe flooding in the Southern belt of Ghana. Assessments conducted by the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) and other humanitarian partners she said estimated that at least 32 people lost their lives and over 32,000 others were affected. She explained the kind of support that the UN system has given over the years when disasters occurred in terms of response and preparedness.

In his message, the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon renewed the Organization’s commitment to life-saving relief efforts and to remember those who died while serving a noble cause.

A section of UN staff at the ceremony

Mr. Ban stressed that aid workers were envoys sent by the UN to show its solidarity with the suffering, representing “what is best in nature. But their work is dangerous. And often, they pay a heavy price. Harassment, intimidation. Kidnapping and even murder.”

Mr. Ebenezer Dosoo, National Deputy Coordinator, NADMO appealed to the UN system and other development partners to assist the most vulnerable when disasters occur.

The Head of OCHA, Ms. Mercy Manyala explained what humanitarian agencies do and who they were. She said apart from focusing on raising public awareness about what humanitarian aid workers do, “in line with the spirit of the General Assembly Resolution that established the Day in 2008, we will also reflect upon the colleagues that have lost their lives or who have been injured as a result of their commitment and dedication to the humanitarian cause and, continue to highlight the fact that we work with the aim of improving the lives of the people we are assisting – the most vulnerable.”

Ms. Manyala said the flood situation in the country was not yet over and commended NADMO and philanthropists for the response that has so far been given to the populations affected by the June/July floods in the southern belt. She stressed however that the needs are still there, and reminded all humanitarian partners that “we have to prepare adequately to respond in the north.”

There was an exhibition which depicted the work of humanitarian partners.

UNIC-Accra coordinated the media interviews, planned and organized the ceremony. The UNIC- Accra representative earlier gave an overview of the Day as instituted by UN General Assembly.

The ceremony was attended by a sizeable number of UN staff, humanitarian partners, media representative and the general public. Enclosed are some of the photos captured at the ceremony as well as newspaper clippings on the programme.