China, a country which faces great challenges of natural disasters, plays a great role in helping strengthen international humanitarian responses and its humanitarian workers range from local volunteers who rescue their neighbors to expert teams who respond to international disasters, a senior UN official said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
"China is a country that faces great challenges, with storms, with floods, with earthquakes," Kieran Dwyer, chief of communications for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told Xinhua ahead of World Humanitarian Day, which falls on Aug. 19.
Responding to these natural disasters within its own borders has helped China strengthen its capacity to assist with international disasters, Dwyer said. "China itself is incredibly strengthened its own national capacity for humanitarian emergency relief and response and is able to share that capacity in the global community."
Dwyer explained that World Humanitarian Day was about recognizing the contribution of both local and international humanitarians.
"The largest number of humanitarian workers working in international crises are people from that very country," he said, referring to China.
"Humanitarians are ... search and rescue people in local councils, in local towns and cities, volunteers who come together to help their neighbors when these things happen," he said.
This local experience can in turn be shared internationally when major disasters strike, Dwyer said, giving the example of China's search and rescue teams.
"When there's a major earthquake -- for example this year in Nepal -- China sends its specialist people with their own equipment," he said. "They fly urgently within the first 24 hours of an earthquake like this to try to save those lives."
These international experts help complement the efforts of local humanitarians, said Dwyer.
"(These teams) help strengthen other communities in the same ways that they've learned how to increase their own capacities so every country has got a role to play in helping all countries be better prepared for this kind of work," he said.
World Humanitarian Day raises awareness about humanitarian assistance worldwide, and the people who risk their lives to provide it. It is observed on Aug. 19 annually, the day the UN headquarters in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, were bombed in 2003, claiming the lives of 22 people.