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One Humanity: Honoring Michiganders Who Fight for Others

Amnesty International, Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children are among the humanitarian organizations working around the world. (Pixabay)
Amnesty International, Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children are among the humanitarian organizations working around the world. (Pixabay)
August 19, 2016

LANSING, Mich. - Aid workers in Michigan and around the globe work on many levels to end the suffering of those in need. Today's observance of World Humanitarian Day is a time to honor their commitment.

According to the United Nations, which established the annual observance in 2003, about 130 million people need humanitarian assistance to survive. In a world plagued by conflict and violence, said Ken Grunow, Michigan coordinator for Amnesty International USA, it's important to recognize those who dedicate their lives to the betterment of others.

"I think at the end of the day it makes us all feel better to know that we've been part of trying to help other people who are in need," he said. "That just seems to be a natural human instinct. So, I'm hopeful about the future even though there so many, many, many challenges facing us."

Grunow said humanitarian workers not only respond to crisis but also strengthen communities, build peace and advocate for those without a voice. This year's World Humanitarian Day theme is "One Humanity."

Work in Michigan is focused on the world refugee crisis, which Grunow said is the greatest since World War II. About 1,000 refugees have resettled in the state this year with the help of groups such as Freedom House in Detroit and Welcome Michigan. Despite the challenges they face, he said, refugees are resilient.

"Their performance once they are settled is really quite amazing," he said. "They tend to be people who are very ambitious in terms of making themselves capable of looking after themselves. They tend to be people who contribute a great deal to the economy and so forth."

Grunow said he believes Michigan and the United States could do much more to help the estimated 60 million-plus people displaced in conflict areas around the world.

"Even though there's a fair amount of fearmongering about dangers that they pose to the community and so on, there's no evidence actually that that is a problem," he said. "They're highly vetted before they come here. The U.S. has the most stringent vetting process in the world."

Along with Amnesty International, Grunow said, many humanitarian organizations are working around the globe including Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI