Article | 5 min read

World Humanitarian Day: It takes a village

Learn more about our partner organizations that are supporting humanitarian aid workers all over the world, and—most importantly—how you can help.

By Laura Shear, Director of Social Impact Communications

Published August 19, 2022
Last updated August 19, 2022

On August 19, 2003, a bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq, killed 22 humanitarian aid workers. In 2008, the UN General Assembly designated this date—August 19—as World Humanitarian Day (WHD) to commemorate aid workers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Each year, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and humanitarian partners focus on a theme to campaign for the survival, well-being, and dignity of all those affected by crises and in war-torn areas, including the safety and security of aid workers.

This year’s official WHD theme upholds the spirit of collective endeavor, the coming together of partners and organizations around the world to protect the most vulnerable in conflict zones. It also aims to grow a global appreciation of humanitarian workers who risk their lives, often working away from the spotlight; toiling tirelessly to deliver urgent health care, shelter, food, water, protection—and above all—hope to so many.

The year 2022 has been especially trying for our community of aid workers, and in many ways, a litmus test of our global solidarity.

In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine this year and the heartbreaking scenes that unfolded, thousands of aid workers have mobilized to help the millions of Ukrainians who are still trapped in the conflict zones, are fleeing their homes, or have become displaced.

Our partner organizations, including the International Rescue Committee (IRC), are providing critical aid to Ukrainian refugees.

Using technology to alleviate human suffering

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is active in 40 countries, including Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Syria, providing emergency assistance and support to people in hard-to-reach areas. In 2015, the IRC and Mercy corps launched Signpost at the peak of the European refugee crisis with the mission to provide vital community-led information services from the frontlines of conflict zones for the aid sector. Signpost was initially built on disparate systems that struggled to communicate effectively, making rapid scaling impossible.

International Rescue Committee helps a refugee crossing the Medyka border

Photo courtesy of IRC

In 2020, the IRC and its Signpost partners turned to Zendesk to see if our technology could enhance Signpost’s services in the same way that it had improved the IRC’s Welcome Center intake and follow-up processes. The first Signpost platform built on Zendesk software launched in Colombia later that year. Using Zendesk Support Suite, Signpost was able to provide multi-channel communications and analytics for their project team, and seamlessly integrate their Contentful CMS tool. This allows their projects to easily populate knowledge articles and service locations on their service map so refugees and aid workers can access critical information via digital and social channels in the languages they speak. Today, Signpost connects over 24 million people with information and is active in 18 countries, delivering information in 11 languages.

In April this year, the latest resource supported by Signpost, United for Ukraine, went live. The online resource portal helps individuals and families fleeing Ukraine find shelter, job opportunities, psychological support, legal aid, and other critical resources. To date, United for Ukraine has housed 10,000 refugees and delivered 665 pieces of life-saving information to over half a million users.

Forging new partnerships

Zendesk has also recently partnered with the Center for Humanitarian Technology (CFHT), which provides technology and operations solutions to global humanitarian organizations free of charge. CFHT and Zendesk’s first collaboration is the development and implementation of a customized technology solution for Step with Hope, a Ukrainian humanitarian organization serving internally displaced people and refugees.

In July alone, 3,500 families requested support through the CFHT platform and over 1,200 received food aid.

Step with Hope receives hundreds of new requests for aid from families and individuals. In July alone, 3,500 families requested support through the CFHT platform and over 1,200 received food aid.

CFHT replaced Step with Hope’s manual telephone call center with a Telegram messaging-based operations center powered by Zendesk’s ticketing system technology—streamlining a previously time-consuming process and increasing the humanitarian capacity of Step with Hope.

Take action

Zendesk volunteers are taking action to support refugees around the world and you can too. Join the thousands of supporters who have called their representatives, written letters, shared campaigns, or otherwise mobilized to advocate for protection for refugees and asylum seekers around the world. Learn more about how to lend a helping hand.

Donate

To help the IRC continue to provide critical support, donate here.

The following Zendesk Tech for Good partners are focused on providing access to shelter or funds within Europe, especially within the U.K. and Germany. Consider donating to these orgs:

  • ICanHelpHost connects refugees with access to over 10,000 hosts across the U.K. and Europe.
  • #UnterKunft Ukraine is a digital platform that helps people who have fled Ukraine—or are in the process of doing so—with safe and reliable access to accommodations in Germany.
  • Rotary Club Berlin organizes and coordinates accommodations for Ukrainian refugees in Berlin.
  • The Red Cross – Poland works in partnership with AWS and the American Red Cross to get monthly cash donations to Ukrainian families in need.

Volunteer

For families starting over in a new country, words of kindness and compassion can mean everything. Writing a note or recording a video message takes just a few minutes but makes a huge impact on refugee children and families. Here’s how you can submit a video message of welcome or send a digital note to people in Ukraine.

Sponsor a Ukrainian seeking refuge

In the almost six months since the war in Ukraine first began, more than 100,000 Ukrainians are seeking refuge in the United States. Under the Uniting for Ukraine program, Ukrainians need to find a sponsor to enter the United States with humanitarian parole. Our partner, Civic Nation, has collaborated with Welcome.US to launch Welcome Connect, a tool that bridges this gap and empowers Americans to sponsor families seeking refuge.

In the first five days the platform opened, 5,000 Ukrainian families signed up, hoping to connect with potential sponsors in the United States. You can now register at Welcome Connect to sponsor a Ukrainian. Registration is not an immediate obligation to sponsor—you will create a profile, be offered an online training, and start the process of connecting with a Ukrainian seeking refuge to decide whether sponsorship is a good fit for you. This is a powerful and meaningful way to help.