It's World Humanitarian Day. Here's 5 things you should know.

Little Girl 1 Credit Helen Blakesley CRS CNA 8 24 15 Helen Blakesley/CRS.

Friday, August 19 is World Humanitarian Day, as designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008. The day "honors those, who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and those, who continue to bring assistance and relief to millions," the U.N. has stated.

"The Day also seeks to draw attention to humanitarian needs worldwide and the importance of international cooperation in meeting these needs."

Amidst a global humanitarian crisis where the number of persons displaced from their homes is at its highest ever recorded, here are five things to know:

  • The Lake Chad Basin in Africa – which includes the countries of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger – has been described as the "world's most neglected humanitarian crisis." Famine, drought, and sectarian violence by the terror group Boko Haram and militant Fulani herdsmen have combined to displace almost 3 million. The U.N. has estimated that over nine million people need humanitarian aid. In Northeastern Nigeria alone, in territory held by the Boko Haram, the U.N. has estimated that around a quarter million children "are suffering from severe malnutrition."
  • The scale of displaced persons is so large that the International Olympic Committee recognized them with their own team, competing in Rio under the Olympic flag. A team of 10 athletes made the trek, including a Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini. In August of 2015, she was on an overcrowded refugee boat that broke doewn in the Aegean Sea. Mardini swam to the Greek island of Lesbos, and from there to Europe. "My message at these games is just "Never give up'," she said.


  • "World Humanitarian Day recognizes those who dedicate their lives to serving others in difficult circumstances," according to Catholic Relief Services. Perhaps no one did this better than Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who will be canonized Sept. 4. CRS' Sean Callahan, who once worked with Mother Teresa, recalled that "she didn't just send people out – she did the work herself…We felt we were in the presence of a saint."


  • You can pledge to pray for someone in need through Catholic Relief Services' Virtual Votive Candle project. If you want to make a donation through CRS, you can do it to honor Bl. Mother Theresa of Calcutta in advance of her Sept. 4 canonization.

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