SANA'A, Aug. 19 (Saba) - The number of aid workers killed, kidnapped and seriously wounded has reached the highest number ever recorded, according to new figures published today on World Humanitarian Day. In Yemen, humanitarian workers continue to deliver life-saving assistance to millions of people in need despite enormous challenges.
World Humanitarian Day marks the anniversary of the UN Headquarters bombing in Baghdad in 2003 when 22 people, including UN humanitarian veteran Sergio Vieria de Mello, lost their lives. It is a tribute to aid workers worldwide, a commemoration to those who have lost their lives and a celebration of the spirit of humanitarian work around the world.
"Humanitarian workers in Yemen, particularly national colleagues, are delivering vital, life-saving assistance to millions of vulnerable people but they face great challenges ranging from lack of access to those in need to risk of being taken hostage or hurt in the course of their work," said Dr. Ahmed Shadoul, acting Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen.
In 2013, humanitarian partners in Yemen were able to deliver assistance to more than five million people in desperate need of assistance. Much of this work was undertaken by Yemenis working for the United Nations, international organizations or NGOs. Through their work, the humanitarian community was able to reach people in need in the most remote and insecure parts of the country. This year, the humanitarian community aims to assist 7.6 million people in Yemen.
Globally, research by Humanitarian Outcomes shows that in 2013, 155 aid workers were killed, 171 were seriously wounded and 134 were kidnapped. Overall this represents a 66 per cent increase in numbers of victims from the previous year. In Yemen, there were at least 11 incidents involving humanitarian workers including one kidnapping, two incidents of aggravated assault and three incidents of ambush or attack.
"One aid worker killed in the line of duty is one too many. Nurses, engineers, logisticians and drivers for example all take great risk doing their work in sometimes extremely dangerous and difficult circumstances. World Humanitarian Day is the day we remember the sacrifices that humanitarian workers make. We also pay tribute to all humanitarians who work to help and support the most vulnerable," said Valerie Amos, the Emergency Relief Coordinator.
As part of the World Humanitarian Day celebration, a new platform to inspire and mobilize action on global emergencies will be launched. The site – Messengers of Humanity - will build a community of thousands of advocates who will be asked to share content and stories on social networks. We hope that people will then be inspired to take action.
Violence against aid workers occurred in 30 countries including Yemen, but three quarters of all attacks took place in just five settings: Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, Pakistan and Sudan.
Year after year, more aid workers are attacked on the road than in any other setting. In 2013, over half of all violent incidents occurred in the context of an ambush or roadside attack.