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Aug. 19 is World Humanitarian Day, an annual United Nations tribute that often goes by unnoticed. This year is different: It falls on a week when we've been acutely reminded of both the world's humanitarian crises, and the danger aid workers face every day.


Yesterday the world was shocked by the photograph and video of Omran Daqneesh, a Syrian boy pulled from the rubble of Aleppo by local rescuers. The chaotic images that turned the boy into an overnight symbol of Syria's suffering also show two other children being saved by medical workers in the city — just a sample of the enormous task that falls on the shoulders of Syria's humanitarian volunteers.


In Aleppo, like elsewhere in the Middle East, humanitarian workers and hospitals are under constant threat of attack. On today, of all days, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders announced it would evacuate all staff from hospitals in northern Yemen after an airstrike earlier this week hit one of its facilities. That was the fourth attack on the group's hospitals since the beginning of Yemen's civil war.


Humanitarians don't only risk their lives in war zones, they toil in countries across the globe from Australian migrant camps in Nauru to hospitals in Angola fighting the spread of yellow fever. To get a small (and virtual) sense of what humanitarian workers are up against every day, take this quiz to find out "which world you would rather live in."

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Society

Return To Clay: Why An Ancient Building Material Is Back In Fashion

Concrete and glass are often thought of as the only building materials of modern architecture. But Francis Diébédo Kéré, the first African winner of a prestigious Pritzker architecture prize, works with clay, whose sustainability is not the only benefit.

Francis Diébédo Kéré extended the primary school in the village of Gando, Burkina Faso

Clara Le Fort

"Clay is fascinating. It has this unique grain and is both beautiful and soft. It soothes; it contributes to well-being..."

Francis Diébédo Kéré, the first African to be awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize last March, is paying tribute to clay. It's a material that he adores, which has too often been shunned and attributed to modest constructions and peasant houses. Diébédo Kéré has always wanted to celebrate "earthen architecture”: buildings made out of clay. It's a technique that has been used for at least 10,000 years, which draws on this telluric element, known as dried mud, beaten earth, rammed earth, cob or adobe.

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