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Safe and unimpeded access critical for humanitarian workers, says UNICEF on World Humanitarian Day

New York, 19 August 2012 – On World Humanitarian Day, UNICEF called on all parties in conflicts around the world to allow humanitarian workers safe, unimpeded access to reach children and women in need.

World Humanitarian Day is a time to honour those who face danger and adversity to help others.  The day was designated by the General Assembly to mark the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, which killed 22 UN staff. Every day humanitarian aid workers help millions of people around the world, regardless of who they are and where they are. World Humanitarian Day is a global recognition of people helping people.

However, humanitarian work is becoming increasingly dangerous for those who perform it, with a substantial rise in violent attacks against humanitarian workers recorded over the past decade.  From January 2011 to present, 112 aid workers (102 national and 10 international) were killed in incidents of violence. 

In several countries, conflict and insecurity not only threaten the lives of humanitarian

workers −  particularly local aid workers − but also prevent them from safely reaching those who are the most vulnerable.  Lack of safe access is a major obstacle to humanitarian organisations carrying out life-saving work.

In times of conflict, children and families cannot access the humanitarian assistance and basic social services - like vaccines, health care, clean water and sanitation that they so desperately need. Consequently, they suffer a double injustice as thousands of children’s lives are lost and countless more suffer unnecessarily every year.

Facts UNICEF and Emergencies:

In 2011, UNICEF responded to 292 emergencies in 80 countries, including emergency/humanitarian, recovery or fragile situations.  Working with partners UNICEF assisted an estimated:


- Over 1.8 million severely malnourished children aged 6-59 months benefitting from therapeutic feeding programmes


-  52.3 million Children aged 6 months - 15 years vaccinated for measles

- 257 million families that received two Insecticide treated bednets

WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene)

- Over 18.5 million people with access to safe water to agreed standards

- Over 4.86 million people with access to appropriately designed toilets

- Over 10.2 million children with access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in their learning environment 

Child Protection

- Over 2 million children with safe access to community spaces for socializing, play, learning, etc.

- Over 11,600 children associated with armed forces or groups reintegrated into their families and communities


- 835,000 pregnant women with access to prevention, care and treatment including prevention of mother to child transmission


- 8.76 million School- aged children, including adolescents, accessing formal and non-formal basic education (including temporary learning spaces and play and early learning for young children)

You can help make a difference by getting involved on World Humanitarian Day.  Go to www.whd-iwashere.org, click on ‘Take Action’, and scroll down to UNICEF.  

For more information:
Sarah Crowe, UNICEF Spokesperson, scrowe@unicef.org, Tel: + 1 212 326 7206, Mobile: + 1 646 209 1590
Kate Donovan, kdonovan@unicef.org, UNICEF Media New York, Tel: + 1 212 326 7452
Tamar Hahn, thahn@unicef.org, UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean, Tel: + 507 301 7485

UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.


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