19 August 2013, Geneva, Switzerland - Each year on 19 August the international community celebrates the World Humanitarian Day in commemoration of the day in 2003 when 22 aid workers were killed in a bombing at the UN headquarters in Baghdad. This is also a day to commemorate all those who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and to underline and spread the example of people helping people.

UNITAR joins the celebrations with a message of renewed commitment to supporting humanitarian assistance through the work of its Operational Satellite Applications Programme UNOSAT. Since 2003 UNOSAT runs a Humanitarian Rapid Mapping Service dedicated to responding to requests from UN and non-UN humanitarian organisations requiring rapid satellite analysis to organise, coordinate and evaluate their emergency relief operations following natural disasters and during complex emergencies.

What does UNOSAT provide in practice to humanitarian agencies?

1.    UNOSAT provides professional satellite imagery analysis which produces information that can be used for decision making at headquarters and in the field. Satellite generated information is very important to complement primary data and in many cases it is verifiable secondary data.
2.    A Centre of Excellence entirely dedicated to study and implement technology based solutions for better, less costly, more coordinated work. UNOSAT also owns and operates UAVs for smaller scale surveys.
3.    Long term geospatial memory and synergy across agencies and operations: UNOSAT safeguards at its location at CERN terabytes of geospatial information on humanitarian crises and vulnerable communities.
4.    Technology research and smart applications for all parts of the UN: UNOSAT employs experts in satellite technology and continuously studies how to turn latest technologies into usable and affordable solutions to make the work of the UN more efficient and more effective.

UNOSAT is also active in training, deployment and integrated solutions. For more information, visit the UNOSAT pages on the UNITAR website.