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Beyonce, aid groups try to reach 1 billion people for World Humanitarian Day

By Holly Yan, CNN
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Sun August 19, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • World Humanitarian Day encourages benevolence and honors fallen aid workers
  • Ideas include providing a meal for a homeless person or volunteering
  • Beyonce premieres a music video for the song "I Was Here"
  • The theme is about "leaving our mark on the world," the singer says

(CNN) -- Singer Beyonce, the United Nations and dozens of global aid groups have one message for the world Sunday: Perform a good deed, no matter how big or small, to help another person.

Sunday marks World Humanitarian Day, which honors those who face danger in helping others and also encourages people to volunteer or help someone in need.

Beyonce and aid organizations are trying to reach 1 billion people through social media for this year's campaign, called "I Was Here."

"'I Was Here' says I want to leave my footprints in the sands of time, and that is leaving our mark on the world," Beyonce told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "We all want to know that our life meant something, and that we did something for someone else, and that we spread positivity no matter how big or how small."

The singer recorded a music video for the song "I Was Here," which was performed at the U.N.'s General Assembly Hall. The video premieres Sunday on big screens in Dubai, Geneva, New York's Times Square and other locations.

"This year's World Humanitarian Day presents a historic opportunity to bring together 1 billion people from around the world to advance a powerful and proactive idea: people helping people," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement.

"From international efforts to avert a hunger crisis in West Africa, to urgent assistance to civilians in Syria, to a single good deed from one neighbor to the next, the spirit of people helping people improves conditions for all," Ban said.

The United Nations lists a variety of ideas for participating in World Humanitarian Day, such as making a sandwich for a homeless person, donating one's skills to a community project and giving away an item you no longer use.

Four years ago, the U.N. General Assembly proclaimed August 19 as World Humanitarian Day to commemorate the 2003 Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad that killed 22 U.N. staff members, the global body said.

But the dangers of international aid work continue today.

"Every day in Somalia, nongovernmental organizations and the U.N. humanitarian agencies work with the Somali people to overcome the effects of drought, hunger and conflict on innocent people," Mark Bowden, U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator in Somalia, said in a statement.

"The dangers are very real. Since the last World Humanitarian Day, 19 aid workers were killed and eight others kidnapped in Somalia, four of whom remain in captivity," Bowden said.

The World Food Programme has also suffered casualties while carrying out its work.

In the past year, 12 WFP staff, contractors and partner staff have been killed while working to fight hunger in Haiti, the Ivory Coast, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, the group's executive director, Ertharin Cousin, said in a statement.

The U.N. chief said the best way to honor fallen aid workers is to carry on their mission by helping those who are suffering.

"Individual actions may seem small, but collectively they will reverberate around the world, generating unstoppable momentum for a better future," Ban said.

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