Protect those who work to protect children and families: UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake
Statement on World Humanitarian Day
“These emergencies have increased in both frequency and complexity. So, too, has the risk to humanitarian workers – and the death toll among them has risen accordingly.
“Consider only the last month:
“In South Sudan, humanitarian workers have been killed by armed fighters while supporting the mission to reach malnourished children before it is too late.
“In Gaza, aid workers have lost their lives in shelling attacks while providing critical care to the sick, the wounded, and the dying, and comforting families of the dead.
“In Sierra Leone, in Liberia, in Guinea, health workers trying desperately to save lives in the Ebola epidemic have succumbed to the deadly virus themselves. Others have been threatened with bodily harm for trying to stop the spread of the disease.
“This is only a few weeks; the 12 months prior have seen the loss of many more lives. The year 2013 recorded the greatest number of casualties among humanitarian workers. Early this year, an attack on a restaurant in Afghanistan killed four aid workers, including two UNICEF nutrition and health colleagues.
“The loss of these heroes is a loss to the entire humanitarian community – and the world. On World Humanitarian Day, we mourn their deaths and mark their sacrifice. We also honour the dedication of all the brave women and men who continue to do their jobs every day despite the risks – in the service of our common cause: A more safe, just, and peaceful world.
“But we must do more than pay tribute to our colleagues and friends. We must demand protection wherever possible for those who protect the lives of others, and for those most in need of that protection: children. For the increase in humanitarian crises must not be allowed to decrease our common sense of humanity. “
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About World Humanitarian Day
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org