Recognizing aid workers in Somalia on World Humanitarian Day (EN/AR)

Nineteen aid workers killed in Somalia since last 19 August

Nairobi/Mogadishu (17 August 2012) – Celebrated on 19 August, World Humanitarian Day acknowledges the dedication of humanitarian workers.

“Every day in Somalia, NGOs and the UN humanitarian agencies work with the Somali people to overcome the effects of drought, hunger and conflict on innocent people,” said Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Bowden. “While Somalia remains one of the most dangerous environments for aid workers, they are unwavering in their commitment to alleviate suffering.”

While the humanitarian situation in Somalia has improved since last year, it remains critical with 3.8 million people still in crisis or at risk of falling back into crisis without sustained support. There are over one million Somali refugees in neighbouring countries and more than one million displaced within Somalia. “In parts of Somalia, people are again on the move, leaving their homes in search of food, water and other assistance, or fleeing conflict.” said Bowden. Years of conflict has left a generation scarred by their experiences. Gender-based violence is prevalent.

“The conflict directly affects the lives of far too many innocent Somalis, especially women and children,” said Bowden. “Many children know of no other life. When they have experienced such high levels of violence, they may struggle to cope with trauma for the rest of their lives.”

Conflict has also greatly complicated efforts to deliver aid – and continues to put aid workers directly at risk. “The dangers are very real. Since the last World Humanitarian Day, 19 aid workers were killed and eight others kidnapped in Somalia, four of whom remain in captivity,” said Bowden. “Attacks on humanitarians are totally unacceptable.”

“Whether aid workers are international staff far from their homes and families or national staff working in the community in which they were raised, their only agenda is to help the most vulnerable. All parties to the conflict must respect humanitarian work and allow full humanitarian access to people in need.”

About World Humanitarian Day this year

To mark World Humanitarian Day this year, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has organized a campaign with the international star Beyoncé, who recorded a music video to encourage people everywhere to help their fellow human beings.

Beyoncé’s actions emulate her appeal for every person to reach out and work together to make a difference. A simple act of assisting a fellow human being can help change a life. Every person is being asked to make a pledge to carry out some gesture, no matter how small through www.whd-iwashere.org.

In 2008, the UN General Assembly designated 19 August as World Humanitarian Day to raise public awareness of humanitarian assistance worldwide. This day recognizes people who risk their lives to help people in need, wherever they are, and marks the day in 2003 when 22 people lost their lives in an attack on the UN offices in Baghdad.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

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