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World Humanitarian Day: A day for secret heroes

Deep commitment of staff means WFP is able to stay and deliver amidst the most demanding conditions
, WFP staff
WFP staff
'The favourite part of my job is the team that we have at the field office. We all are working as one.' Abdulrahman Basalama, based in Yemen, is among hundreds of WFP staff who make a telling contribution to our work each year. Photo: WFP/Annabel Symington

Not all superheroes wear a mask and a cloak. Many simply don a World Food Programme (WFP) vest and set out each day to reach those people most in need of our support. This humble commitment from our staff helped WFP reach 115.5 million people across 84 countries in 2020. As COVID-19 compounds the threats to people's food security – notably conflict, climate change and economic slumps – our humanitarians mean WFP is able to stay and deliver amidst the most demanding conditions. On World Humanitarian Day, we share the stories of a selection of these staff, as we commend the immense contribution of all humanitarian workers.

1) From receiving WFP assistance to helping others

“I spent three months inside my house not knowing if I would survive until the next hour,” Liberee says of her time during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Her traumatic experience inspired her to join WFP and made her understand how food plays a key role during conflict. 

2) Women at the helm

"Yes we can!" Five voices from WFP describe their journey and how they succeeded in a previously male-dominated environment. "Three decades ago, when I would go into a meeting, I was the only woman. Often the assumption was that I was there to take meeting notes. It’s changed a lot since then but I’d still like to see more women in managerial positions," says Konjit Kidane, Chief of Procurement. 

3) Growing up during conflict

Mohammed Eshkal provides a first-hand account from Libya of how conflict can fuel hunger, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and the collapse of the economy. "However, I forget everything when we deliver food to a family," he says. 

4) Reflections from the frontline

From finance officer to driver, meet five women staff working in Sri Lanka. "Peace to me is being able to go to bed with a clear mind and waking up the next morning with the same peace of mind—knowing that there will be nutritious food on the table," says Pathmarajani Pathmanathan, Programme Associate. 

5) An exceptional year

Last year was exceptional for Lebanon - a massive blast, coronavirus pandemic and economic slump. But Cyril Noujeim was ready to assist in this major crisis. “As a Lebanese, I never imagined that my country and its people would ever slide down to this level of need,”  he says. 

Thanks to all those humanitarians working for a world with zero hunger


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