On May 23-24, 2016, leaders from the United Nations, government, business, aid organizations, and civil society will come together at the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit to discuss how to help the more than 125 million in need of humanitarian assistance. 

At the initiative of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the summit is a key opportunity to advance ideas to better help people in need and to reaffirm our commitment to addressing the largest global humanitarian crisis of our time. 

As we approach the summit in May, and then continue to address these issues in the months and years ahead, here are 11 quotes from UN leaders to remind us of our common humanity and the need to act. Visit to learn more about the World Humanitarian Summit and join the conversation online with the hashtag #ShareHumanity.



“Conflicts and disasters have driven millions of children, women and men to the edge of survival. They desperately need our help.” – Stephen O’Brien, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator

“Regardless of the motives people have for crossing international borders, every person is entitled to individual consideration of her or his circumstances. Simply put, all human beings have all human rights.” – Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussain, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

“We want to ensure that refugee rights are upheld everywhere and that they have access to shelter, food, and health care. This must continue. But we also want to create opportunities for education and livelihoods. This is what refugees want desperately.” – Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees

“Until we deliver the political solutions that create peace, we must implement the humanitarian solutions that create hope and stability across the region. Failure to do so will haunt us all for decades to come.” – Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme

“The new agenda for sustainable development recognizes migrants, refugees, and displaced persons as vulnerable groups and calls for full respect for their human rights. Pursuing the new goals and targets, including the one for universal health coverage, will address multiple economic, social, and environmental determinants of the well-being of people and the planet that sustains them.” – Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization 

“Development must target the millions of children affected by humanitarian crises. We must break down the barriers between development and humanitarian response, to put in place long-term efforts to end poverty and hunger.” – Anthony Lake, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Emergency Fund 

“Every day we see stories of migrants and refugees escaping violence, discrimination, disaster, massed at often unwelcoming borders, risking their lives in leaky boats on deadly seas for the chance of a better, safer life. Like so many of the challenges the world faces, this is a universal problem requiring a collective, coherent response. Because it is more and more clear that we’re all in the same boat. And there is no quick fix. We need to solve the problems that have led to this.” – Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund

“We need innovation in humanitarian and development action. Humanitarian needs will shrink decisively when and where more sustainable development in achieved.” – Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme

“The extraordinary challenges, such as the current refugee and migration situation, require us to work together to address their root causes in countries of origin as well as in countries of transition and destination. This is a new challenge on which we need to collaborate and find new and sustainable ways of responding.” – Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women