World Humanitarian Day 2017
Every year on August 19, the international community recognizes World Humanitarian Day—a day to celebrate the hard work of aid workers everywhere, to remember the friends and colleagues our community has lost, to advocate for stronger protections and better and safer access to people in need, and to demand accountability and justice for violations of international humanitarian law.
In some of the world’s worst conflicts—including South Sudan, northeast Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, and Afghanistan—aid workers cannot safely reach the communities most in need of humanitarian assistance, which is a violation of international humanitarian law. Many aid workers, civilians, and protected spaces like hospitals, displacement camps, and schools have been made targets of attack.
Worldwide, attacks against aid workers have tripled in the past ten years. In 2016 alone, statistics on major attacks against aid workers are alarming:
- Attacks against national aid workers in 2016 are almost triple the number of attacks against international humanitarian personnel, with 245 national victims and 43 international victims.
- In 2016, 158 major attacks against aid operations were documented, in which 288 aid workers were victims: 101 aid workers were killed, 98 were wounded, and 89 were kidnapped.
This year, the global community is coming together for World Humanitarian Day to stand against attacks on aid workers and civilians: because the people who put their lives on the line to help those in need and the civilian men, women, and children who live in the midst of war and conflict are #NotATarget.
NOT A TARGET: PROTECTING CIVILIANS AND AID WORKERS
In South Sudan—one of the most dangerous places to be an aid worker—our humanitarian staff speak out. Below, members of our team working in Malualkon, Aweil East County, have all given their answer to the same question:
Why does the world need humanitarian aid workers?
Ngor John Ngor, Logistics Assistant (left): "To help the vulnerable communities"
Dut Adong Longar, Logistics Aide (center): “To implement the humanitarian assistance”
Abe Chaplain Cosmas, Logistics Officer: "To save lives"
Rebecca Arek Garang, Hygiene Promoter (left): "To make a positive change in people's lives"
Abuk Garang Wal, Hygiene Promoter: "To bring back peace"
Peter Majok Yak, Stabilization Center Nurse (left): "To build capacities at community level"
Maria Apet Mayen, Stabilization Center Nurse: "To maintain human dignity during crisis"
Anyama Richard, Stabilization Center Nurse: "To help the ones that are most in need"
Angela Abuk Magok, Community mobilizer (left): "To fight malnutrition"
Asunta Nyanut Garang, Community mobilizer (center left): "To protect people"
Sebit Sebit Ahmed, Nutrition Program Manager (center right): "To alleviate suffering"
Adut Atak Bulo, Nutrition Health Promoter: “To prevent diseases”
(All photos by Guy Calaf and Lys Arango for Action Against Hunger, South Sudan)
Around the world, we are so proud to have dedicated humanitarian workers, like the ones photographed here, put their service to communities and our mission to end hunger above all else, despite the harsh working conditions, long hours, and daily dangers of their jobs. We celebrate their commitment and compassion, their professionalism and pride in serving people in need.
LIVES ON THE LINE: AID WORKERS ARE #NOTATARGET
Why are national humanitarian workers more at risk than international staff? Is violence against aid workers an inevitable consequence of war? How does international humanitarian law protect aid workers? Pauline Chetcuti, Action Against Hunger’s Head of Humanitarian Advocacy and Policy, addresses some FAQs about this campaign and the threats to aid workers and civilians, particularly in situations of armed conflict. Check out the Q&A here.
WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY PRESS RELEASE: A CALL TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST CIVILIANS AND AID WORKERS
Action Against Hunger is deeply alarmed by the unprecedented scale of humanitarian needs caused by the proliferation of conflict—and the increasing impunity of attacks on civilians and aid workers. On World Humanitarian Day, we honor aid workers all over the world who are risking their lives in service to humanity. We join our international humanitarian partners in urging world leaders—and all those in a position of power—to do everything possible to meet their obligations to protect civilians and aid workers. Read the full release.
SEEKING JUSTICE FOR AID WORKERS ASSASSINATED IN SRI LANKA: WE WILL NEVER GIVE UP
On August 4, 2006, a group of gunmen entered a humanitarian compound in Muttur, Sri Lanka and murdered 17 Action Against Hunger aid workers, all of whom were unarmed and wearing t-shirts that clearly identified them as humanitarian staff. These women and men were dedicated humanitarians: they sacrificed their lives in service to humanity, working to provide assistance to survivors of the horrific 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Eleven years after the massacre of Action Against Hunger's staff, government authorities still have not taken any action to bring those responsible for the crime to justice. We demand #JusticeForMuttur.
WORKING TO HELP VICTIMS OF WAR
Around the world, Action Against Hunger works in areas where war and conflict have devastated communities, helping to meet urgent needs and to provide the assistance people need to recover their lives. Below, find stories of how our aid workers help civilian families whose lives have been overturned by violence.
- Recovery After ISIS: Responding to Mental Health Needs in Iraq
- Averting Famine in Northeast Nigeria: Answering the Call
- Women Refugees From South Sudan Become Community Leaders in Uganda
Photo: Florian Seriex for Action Against Hunger, Jordan