Oxfam staff celebrate World Humanitarian Day in Luonyaker, Sudan

Abdullah Ampilan is the PHP Officer of Intermon Oxfam. He used to blog also while doing humanitarian work for Oxfam GB in South East Asia during 2008.

“I didn’t know that today is World Humanitarian Day because we do not have radio, TV or newspaper,” says Jackline Akuol Akol. The 20-year old Extension Worker works for Oxfam’s Food Security project in Luonyaker, South Sudan. The team of 38 gathered on 19 August in a temporary office to greet each other and join the UN in celebrating humanitarian work around the world.

In 2008, the UN General Assembly agreed to designate 19 August every year as World Humanitarian Day to stress three main points:

  • to draw attention to humanitarian needs worldwide;
  • to explain, in simple, visual terms what humanitarian aid work entails; and
  • to remember those who have lost their lives in humanitarian service.

Giir Mou Giir, 34, is one of Oxfam’s Water & Sanitation Technicians in Luonyaker. Despite his physically difficulty having been operated in his right knee due to an infection, Giir manages to walk 6 kilometers a day from home to office. “I remember during the civil war in my country, NGOs fed us in the refugee camps. If not for humanitarian aid workers, we would have suffered even more,” says Giir.

Like Jackline and Giir, all the rest of Oxfam’s 32 national staff in Luonyaker did not finish their study because of the 25-year civil war in Sudan. Most of them had their education in the refugee camps in neighboring countries like Kenya and Uganda.

Oxfam is the newest INGO to establish a field office in Gogrial East, close to the border between North and South Sudan in April 2010. Currently, it implements projects on food security, water and sanitation and hygiene promotion funded by AECID, ECHO and BSF.

The area is deep into the bush without electricity and water facilities. Communication using radio, mobile phone and internet is a problem. The area is flat and wide an often flooded. This makes it more difficult to access project areas.

Despite of many limitations faced by Oxfam staff in the field, Field Manager Charles Dashe is still very happy. “We do not have power supply, no better communication facilities, in short, we are completely cut off from the rest of the world,” he says. “But I have dedicated staff from the Philippines, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Sudan. They have a complete synergy bringing different talents and skills into the project.”

Humanitarian crises, both human-made and natural, happen across the world. The last ten years saw many of the world’s most devastating crises in the history. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, tsunamis, internal conflicts and wars between nations happen almost everywhere. Many humanitarian workers have lost their lives in the name of service to humanity. Today, humanitarian workers still risk their lives to deliver humanitarian assistance.

The Luonyaker team remembers the heroism of all the humanitarian workers in the world, especially those who have died for the humanitarian cause.

Oxfam’s work in Gogrial East is funded by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) and the Basic Services Fund (BSF).

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