A day to recognize humanitarians’ dedication to the Somali people: World Humanitarian Day falls exactly two months after attack on UN compound

Mogadishu (19 August 2013) – World Humanitarian Day is marked each year on 19 August. The United Nations General Assembly designated the day to acknowledge humanitarians’ unwavering dedication and aid workers who lost their lives while working to help people in need. “This year, World Humanitarian Day falls exactly two months after the deadly attack on the United Nations Common Compound in Mogadishu. We remember our colleagues and friends who were killed in that horrific attack. They are all deeply missed,” said UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Philippe Lazzarini.

The humanitarian situation in Somalia has continued to improve gradually since the famine in 2011, largely due to the delivery of assistance and consecutive good rains. The gains are fragile, however, and the magnitude of the crisis remains enormous. “Over 2.7 million people are still in need of life-saving assistance and support to build up their livelihoods. We are redoubling efforts to invest in Somalia’s people and communities to break the cycle of crisis and response,” Lazzarini said.

Since the last World Humanitarian Day, 15 national and international aid workers have been killed in Somalia. “Somalia is one of the most difficult and dangerous environments in the world for aid workers. It is Somalia’s civilians who bear the brunt of the conflict. Far too many innocent Somalis suffer, especially women and children,” Lazzarini said.

“Last week, Médecins Sans Frontières terminated all of its medical humanitarian programmes in Somalia, citing extreme attacks on its staff and an environment where armed groups and civilian leaders increasingly support, tolerate or condone the killing and assault of aid workers,” he said.

“As we mark World Humanitarian Day in Somalia this year, and pay tribute to our fallen colleagues, I want to stress that the targeting of humanitarian aid workers and tolerance of such abuses cannot be accepted. Somali and international humanitarian workers provide a vital lifeline in health, nutrition, education, food assistance, livelihoods support, protection, water sanitation and hygiene. Without continued humanitarian assistance, those Somalis most in need will suffer,” Lazzarini said.

On Monday, 19 August, the Humanitarian Coordinator will answer questions on the humanitarian situation in English or Somali through his Twitter account: @UNLazzarini

About World Humanitarian Day To mark World Humanitarian Day this year, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has organized a global campaign, highlighting that the world needs more humanity. This year marks 10 years since the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad was bombed and 22 UN staff were killed on 19 August 2003, including the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello. For more information about the campaign, go to:
www.worldhumanitarianday.org.

For further information, please contact Russell Geekie at geekie@un.org or +252 618 960 006
For comment in Somali, Abdi Yussuf Noor at nooryussuf@un.org or +254-734 210 103
OCHA press releases are available at www.unocha.org/somalia or www.reliefweb.int

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.