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UN pays tribute to thousands of aid workers killed, injured

  • Published at 06:21 am August 20th, 2019
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‘Those we honor today inspire us to be bold and determined to go forward’

The United Nations, marking the 10th anniversary of World Humanitarian Day, haspaid tribute to the thousands of aid workers who have been killed, injured, assaulted and kidnapped while on duty.

They said the world has become a more dangerous place for those who risk their lives for people in need.

Last year was the worst in five years for violence against aid workers and the second worst on record, UN Deputy Humanitarian Chief Ursula Mueller said, during a news conference on Monday.

“In 2018, 131 aid workers were killed, 144 wounded, and 130 kidnapped in 35 crisis-affected countries," she said, adding: “And so far in 2019, some 57 have been killed, 59 wounded and 40 kidnapped.”

"Humanitarian work is getting more dangerous due to the erosion of respect for international law, international humanitarian law, and international human rights law. Consequently, aid workers are increasingly vulnerable, when they are more needed than ever before,” Mueller said.

Commemorating fallen UN aid workers

World Humanitarian Day is held annually on August 19, and 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of its observance. It is the day of the worst terrorist attack against the United Nations, when the UNheadquarters in Baghdad’s Canal Hotel was bombed in 2003, killing 22 UN staff members, including the mission head, Sergio Viera de Mello, a former UN humanitarian chief.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed spoke at a ceremony Monday morning before the tattered UN flag salvaged from the Baghdad headquarters, saying: "Across the years since, so many others have perished in the line of duty, on the front lines of crisis, and in epicenters of dire need."

In their honor, over a hundred UN staff members and diplomats at the ceremony observed a minute of silence.

Also Read- UN pays special tribute to women humanitarians

Commenting on the aftermath of the Baghdad bombing, Mueller said: "More than 4,500 aid workers have been killed, injured, detained, assaulted or kidnapped while carrying out their work ever since.

"That is equivalent to 280 humanitarian workers attacked every year.That is too many of our colleagues and fellow humanitarians killed or injured, and too many making the ultimate sacrifice."

She said the UN is changing the way it operates around the world, by strengthening safety and security measures, providing preparedness training, instituting rapid response measures, and increasing counseling and mental health support.

"Those who attack the United Nations want to make us afraid, feel weak, and to retreat; but those we honor today inspire us to be bold and determined to go forward,"she said.

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