By Faranak Bakhtiari

World needs more real-life heroes

August 18, 2020 - 22:30

TEHRAN – Although hero reminds us of mystical creatures in legends that did extraordinary things, in our world, the heroes are just as worthy of admiration because they’re really showing an uncanny ability to persevere despite the most extreme circumstances, and to do so with humility and dedication.

Medical staff, environmental defenders, doctors without borders, and those delivering humanitarian aid to refugees are the real-life heroes that the world needs more of them.

This year is the eleventh year to celebrate World Humanitarian Day, paying special tribute to real-life heroes. 

On World Humanitarian Day, August 19, the world commemorates humanitarian workers killed and injured in the course of their work, honoring all aid and health workers who continue, despite the odds, to provide life-saving support and protection to people most in need.

This year World Humanitarian Day comes as the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic over recent months. Aid workers are overcoming unprecedented access hurdles to assist people in humanitarian crises in 54 countries, as well as in a further nine countries which have been catapulted into humanitarian need by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This day was designated in memory of the 19 August 2003 bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, killing 22 people, including the chief humanitarian in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly formalized the day as World Humanitarian Day.

Therefore, the campaign presents the inspiring personal stories of humanitarians who are treating and preventing COVID-19, providing food to vulnerable people in need, providing safe spaces for women and girls in lockdown; delivering babies; fighting locusts, and running refugee camps, all amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dedicated medics fighting the invisible enemy

The Iranian medical community has repeatedly succeeded in surviving the people in the floods and earthquakes, and so on, but this time the test is bigger and broader. 

The reality of today's medical community shows that each member is working around the clock and does not back down.

Since March 25, it is reported that 138 healthcare workers in the country have lost their lives due to the coronavirus infection, most of whom were among the physicians amounting to 60 percent, and 20 percent were nurses and the rest were other hospital staff.

Maryam Hazrati, deputy health minister for nursing said in May that some 65 percent of 200,000 nurses in the country was at the forefront of coronavirus fight.

Doctors, nurses, and other staff are making efforts in overwhelming and frightening conditions, not only because the virus is new or invisible, but because mostly they are overworked and vulnerable to the infection.

They may also bear considerable mental stress as well as those at the front line of war events, in addition to the fear they feel about disease transmission when in contact with their family and loved ones.

We can help them by choosing to stay at home and not to be a chain in disease transmission will also be much helpful.

However, the government and decision-makers must also try best to set the most efficient policies in the fight against the disease and give the medical staff what they need to survive this crisis as long as we will need them in case the next pandemic arrives.

 Guardians of nature ‘symbols of selflessness’

Climate change, poaching, and armed conflict, in addition to the Covid-19 pandemic, are the issues affecting natural resources and those who protect them, particularly during this difficult time across the globe.

Multiple deaths and injuries of the rangers occur while trying to safeguard the environment and wildlife. Rangers who risk their lives protecting the environment and wildlife sometimes fall victim by getting into a fight with poachers and may either suffer severe wounds, get killed, or charged with involuntary manslaughter.

In Iran, rangers have been working for about half a century in four protected areas under the management of the DOE, to protect wildlife and biological species, and during this period 140 rangers lost their lives, in the world also more than a thousand environmental defenders have been killed over the last 12 years.

According to the international standard, there should be one ranger per thousand hectares, but in Iran, there is one ranger per 12,000 hectares, which means that the number of rangers in Iran is one-twelfth of the world standard, while the rangers protect 11 percent of the country's natural areas, Jamshid Mohabbat-Khani, commander of the protection unit of the DOE stated.

But we also have a number of responsibilities towards them, one of which is to compensate for the staff shortages, the other is to be more vigilant in environmental protection, as well as providing them with proper equipment and facilities while revising the laws in their favor.

Firefighters rescue, protect the public

The firefighters’ battle with the fire will not come to an end, but it risks the ultimate sacrifice of their life.

In the Iranian calendar year 1359 (March 1980-March 1990), on the same day, Iraqi warplanes attacked the Abadan oil refinery and set it ablaze. Firefighters went on to extinguish the fire, but this time fire was not their only enemy; the refinery was extensively shelled again and many firefighters were martyred in the incident.

It was three years ago on January 19 when the fire was sparked by an electrical short circuit in the top floors of the crowded, 17-story Plasco building in Tehran, which then collapsed after a four-hour blaze and killed 16 firefighters who had been trapped under the rubble.

Although firefighters are committed to rescuing the citizens from natural or hazardous incidents, namely, fires, car rollovers or crashes, quake-hit areas, wildfires, floods and etc., they sometimes have to make immediate and life-threatening decisions in high-pressure situations which might end up in losing their own lives; so this what makes their performance outstanding and honorable.

Firefighting is a job directly related to people’s lives, and given the importance of quick response of the firemen during the accident, it is necessary to pay more serious attention to such heroes.

Measures should be taken to equip the capital’s firefighting stations with proper facilities; it cannot be denied that the facilities must be updated and replace them with new advances.

The most important thing in preventing accidents is educating and informing people on how to behave during emergency conditions.

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