To commemorate World Humanitarian Day 2014, Ban Ki-moon has paid tribute to those who lost their lives while providing aid to others in dangerous parts of the world.
In a message on the eve of this year’s event, the United Nations secretary-general said there was a renewed commitment to life-saving relief efforts, while still remembering those who had died undertaking humanitarian work.
“Last year, more humanitarian workers were kidnapped, seriously injured or killed than ever before. This is an outrage,” he said.
“In recent weeks, dozens of humanitarians – including members of the UN family – have lost their lives in South Sudan and Gaza. Too many people have died or suffered from deliberate attacks. Humanitarian workers and their families are hit hardest by these crimes. But they are also felt by millions of others.”
The role of humanitarian workers
“Attacks on humanitarian workers hinder the ability of people in desperate need to receive lifesaving assistance. Children go unvaccinated. Sick and wounded patients go untreated. Those forced from their homes are left without food, water or shelter – exposed to violence, disease or other threats.”
“On World Humanitarian Day, we honour the heroic aid workers who rush bravely to help people in need. We remember their sacrifices, and we recognise the millions of people who count on humanitarian workers for their very survival. Let us honour the fallen by protecting those who carry on their work – and supporting humanitarian relief operations worldwide.”
Launched to mark the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, in which 22 aid workers were killed, 2014’s theme is ‘The world needs more’, a campaign to recognise the importance and need for humanitarian work, to encourage recruitment of humanitarian workers and raise to awareness of the real and present dangers faced by those in conflict zones.
The UN is also running a campaign to tweet #humanitarianheroes to show support for humanitarian service and to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the world. It has also launched an interactive map to highlight work taking place in countries including Iraq and Central African Republic, as well as the occupied Gaza Strip.
Also marking World Humanitarian Day, the World Health Organisation has called for an end to the targeting of health workers in areas of conflict or other crisis. It said that while attacks are well documented in places like Syria and Gaza, health workers are also being stopped for carrying out their work in areas such as Nigeria and Pakistan, where those providing the polio vaccine – mainly women – are specifically targeted.
Sources: OCHA, worldhumanitarinaday.org