On August 19th, we observe World Humanitarian Day. It is an opportunity to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to remember those who perished while working to relieve the suffering of victims of humanitarian crises.
The date of the observance was chosen to honor the memory of then-Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello and 21 of his colleagues, who died on August 19th, 2003, in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad.
Since that time violence against aid workers has increased, whereas in years past, humanitarian aid workers could operate somewhat freely without being deliberately targeted by belligerent parties.
We are well aware of the many dangers humanitarian workers face during the performance of their duties. “The United States is a leader in promoting the safety and security of humanitarian aid workers, including through strong U.S. support for the UN Department of Safety and Security, which has enabled more than 1,000 high-risk humanitarian operations in active conflict zones,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“To carry out this vital work, the United States depends on courageous humanitarian aid workers who serve on the front lines to alleviate suffering and protect the most vulnerable from harm. As global humanitarian needs continue to increase, the United States will continue to support internationally agreed principles on the protection of humanitarian workers, call on parties to armed conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, including those related to the safety and security of humanitarian personnel, and take every action to protect humanitarian organizations and to respect their independence and neutrality,” he said.
“In disaster and conflict zones around the world, attacks on aid workers and civilians are making it more dangerous to deliver assistance,” said USAID Administrator Mark Green.“Last year, at least 369 aid workers were killed, injured, or kidnapped.”
“As the world's largest humanitarian donor, the United States is proud to support the brave work of aid workers across the globe, as they save lives and alleviate suffering,” said USAID Administrator Green. “The United States honors the sacrifices of aid workers the world over, and remains committed to ensuring the safety of aid workers worldwide.”