Egypt stages marathon rally to highlight humanitarian crisis

CAIRO (Xinhua) — Up to 3,000 runners, amateur and professional, put on their sneakers Friday and jogged through the streets of Egypt’s capital Cairo, marking the World Humanitarian Day (WHD).

In preparation for its 5th season, the Cairo Runners, a leading Egyptian running group, organized a four km mini-marathon in Cairo center under the theme “One Humanity,” mobilizing thousands of running enthusiasts to promote World Humanitarian Day.

Held right after sunrise, the event is also meant to raise awareness of humanitarian needs in the Middle East which has been witnessing deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

“Sport is a tool that we can use to send messages to the world about everything surrounding us. Today we use it to convey a message about humanity. We are now running for humanity,” college student Mahitab Ahmed Zain said as she caught her breath after finishing the marathon.

Joined by her female colleagues, Mahitab expressed happiness and hoped that the efforts that the thousands have done would serve humanity.

“I hope we could do more to put an end to the suffering of the others,” she wished. “We are all humans and we all deserve to live in peace and dignity.”

The WHD is held every year on August 19 to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian services, and to mobilize people to advocate for a more humane world.

It is also an annual reminder of the need to alleviate the affliction of those who suffer.

The day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly seven years ago to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq.

During this day, the UN and its partners call for global solidarity with more than 130 million people around the world who need humanitarian assistance to survive.

Men and women, the elderly and children have all contributed to make the marathon, which was widely covered by local and international media, a big success.

Started with a simple desire of running in the streets of Cairo with only tens of runners four years ago, the Cairo Runners is the first and pioneering street running initiative in the country and it holds weekly morning runs that team up some 2,500 runners every Friday.

The group uses its runs to promote sports as well as raising awareness about humanitarian disasters across the world.

“This is the second time in a row we celebrate the World Humanitarian Day. Through these marathons, we give people a clue about this international occasion,” Amr al-Sobki, one of the event organizers said.

The young man expressed happiness for the large participation by people, stressing the need to use sports in serving world humanitarian issues.

The event was also joined by a number of foreigners in Egypt, including some refugees who have left their countries years ago due to worsening conditions.

“My family and I did not think twice to join this run,” said Abdul Sattar Mohammed, a Somali refugee who has been living in Cairo since 2005. “People have different religions, colors and cultures, but in the end we are all humans, we are all the same.”

By Ahmed Shafiq

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