Statement attributable to the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, on World Humanitarian Day
Maiduguri, 17 August 2018 – We mark World Humanitarian Day every year on 19 August, to express solidarity with people affected by humanitarian crises and pay tribute to the humanitarian workers who help them.
This year’s commemoration marks the fifteenth anniversary since the attack on the United Nations in Baghdad, Iraq, in which 22 of our colleagues were killed. Since that tragedy, which led to this day’s designation as World Humanitarian Day, over 4,000 humanitarians have been killed, injured, detained or kidnapped. That is an average of 300 cases every year.
Civilians in conflict zones also continue to be killed and maimed, deliberately or in indiscriminate attacks. Around the world, conflict is forcing record numbers of people from their homes, with over 65 million people now displaced. Children are recruited by armed groups and used to fight. Women are abused and humiliated. As humanitarian workers deliver aid and medical workers provide for those in need, they are all too often targeted or treated as threats.
Here in north-east Nigeria civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict that has led to widespread forced displacement, abuse, and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Women, men and children face grave human rights violations and sexual and gender-based violence on a daily basis. Since the start of the conflict in 2009 more than 26,000 people have been killed, thousands of women and girls have been abducted and children continue to be used on a regular basis as so-called “suicide” bombers. Thousands of families have been forced to flee their villages and communities.
At the same time, aid and medical workers, who care for people affected by the violence, suffer the consequences of insecurity. Three aid workers were killed and three abducted in March this year in Rann; an aid worker was killed in Ngala in May; and a member of NEMA’s staff was killed in Damasak just last week. These fatalities are a stark reminder of this dangerous reality for all humanitarians. And let us not forget that the vast majority of humanitarians working to provide life-saving aid to people in need are themselves Nigerian.
The United Nations condemns the killing and abduction of aid workers and urges parties to the conflict to enable the work of humanitarian workers and facilitate their access to people in need, in line with International Humanitarian Law. The United Nations also calls for the release of the aid workers who have been abducted.
On World Humanitarian Day, I call on Nigerian leaders to do everything in their power to protect the people caught up in conflict. And I call on all who are concerned to join our campaign at worldhumanitarianday.org to show that civilians are #NotATarget.
Together, we stand, with the Government of Nigeria, in solidarity with civilians in conflict, and with the humanitarian workers who risk their lives to help them.
For further information, please contact:
Samantha Newport, Head of Communications, OCHA Nigeria, (+234) 9062277205, firstname.lastname@example.org OCHA press releases are available at unocha.org or reliefweb.int