World Humanitarian Day as the humanitarian space is shrinking

While the number of forcibly displaced is record high, hence also the demand for humanitarian assistance, the pressure on humanitarian organisations and their staff is increasing. Lack of access to people in need together with an increase in the targeting of aid workers make it very challenging to reach those most in need. The international community should unite to guarantee access and security for humanitarians in order for them to assist those most in need, the Danish Refugee Council said today in a statement ahead of World Humanitarian Day, August 19.

Humanitarian organisations experience a decreasing lack of humanitarian access to people in need, an increasing loss of life in the field and a constant political pressure on the work they do. The World Humanitarian Day, August 19 marks the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, when 22 humanitarian workers were killed – and is an opportunity to remember that a humanitarian worker is #notatarget.

“We see a huge gap between the increasing humanitarian needs in the world – not least as an outcome of a growing number of displaced - while at the same time, the risk linked to helping people in need is also increasing. From 1997 to 2016, the number of humanitarian aid workers killed on duty doubled. We need to remember that humanitarians are and should never be a target. It must never cost lives to save lives,” says Andreas Kamm, Secretary General, the Danish Refugee Council: “At the same time an increased lack of access on the ground makes it impossible to reach some of the areas affected by the world’s worst crises. This means that those most in need often do not get the required humanitarian assistance even if we are ready and stand by to deliver.”

It is not only dangerous and challenging to work in the conflict zones of today’s world. The humanitarian organisations also experience an increased pressure from political side, when trying to fulfil their mandate.

“A recent example was the statements of European politicians criticizing NGOs for their work in the Mediterranean sea though they are in fact fulfilling our stated humanitarian mandates and doing what we as humanitarian organisations do everywhere in the world – namely, save lives. Another example is an increased pressure upon NGOs to work along political agendas. However, phenomena likes migration should be addressed through a focus on sustainable and durable solutions. We have to remember that it is a desperate choice that forces people to leave his or her home and to put oneself and sometimes one’s family at risk by crossing the Sahara desert, the Mediterranean, the Red Sea or where ever people flee in desperate pursue of survival and new and better opportunities,” says Andreas Kamm.

The Danish Refugee Council is a leading international humanitarian organisation and work in more than 35 countries around the world, assisting forcibly displaced and host communities with emergency aid and deliver long term and durable solutions.

“This day also marks an opportunity to send out a big thank you to our more than 7,000 DRC and DDG colleagues around the world who work tirelessly every day in some of the most challenging safety sensitive environments assisting people in need. It is a task we will remain dedicated to work on, as long as the needs are there,” says Andreas Kamm.