UNITED NATIONS: Senior UN officials on Tuesday paid tribute to aid workers who carry out life-saving activities around the world, and called for international support to humanitarian relief operations.
“On World Humanitarian Day, we honor the heroic aid workers who rush bravely to help people in need. We remember their sacrifices, and we recognize the millions of people who count on humanitarian workers for their very survival,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day.
The UN chief said that attacks on humanitarian workers hinder the ability of people in desperate need to receive lifesaving assistance.
“Let us honor the fallen by protecting those who carry on their work — and supporting humanitarian relief operations worldwide,” he said.
Observed annually on Aug. 19, the Day was designated by the General Assembly to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. It is an opportunity to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the globe.
This year’s observance came at a time when the number of aid workers killed, kidnapped and seriously wounded has reached the highest number ever recorded. Among Tuesday’s events is a wreath-laying ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York to honor aid workers killed in the line of duty.
In 2013, 155 aid workers were killed, 171 were seriously wounded and 134 were kidnapped. Overall this represents a 66 percent increase in the number of victims from the previous year. With 81 aid workers killed in 2013, Afghanistan is still the country with the highest number of attacks, according to new figures published Tuesday by the United Kingdom-based organization known as Humanitarian Outcomes.
Preliminary figures showed that as of Aug. 15, 2014, 79 aid workers have been killed this year alone. The months of July and August saw a rise in the level of attacks and incidents involving aid workers including in Gaza and South Sudan.
UN General Assembly President John Ashe said the Day is not only an opportunity for the international community to celebrate the spirit of humanitarian work, but also to underscore the need to do more, as growing humanitarian crises continue to threaten millions of the most vulnerable communities where lives have been torn apart by war and other natural disasters.
“As we look to implement a new sustainable development agenda, eradicating poverty while maintaining peaceful societies based on an inclusive, people-centered approach will be essential components if we are to achieve success and build a just and prosperous future for all the world’s citizens,” he said in a statement. PNA