On World Humanitarian Day (August 19) we pay tribute to the real-life heroes who have committed their lives to helping others in the most extreme circumstances throughout the world. This year all of us at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) will mark the day with a heavy heart, remembering Luka Filibus, an IRC child protection assistant who was abducted and killed by an armed group in northeast Nigeria.
Even though the ongoing violence in northeast Nigeria had forced Luka, 31, and his family to flee their home, Luka dedicated himself to alleviating the suffering of other displaced families. As part of the IRC team based in Monguno, where the IRC runs a Safe Healing and Learning Space for children, he worked tirelessly to protect children and to help lessen their trauma in the face of crisis.
Luka's colleagues in Nigeria remember him as always with a smile on his face and always willing to lend a helping hand. IRC child protection coordinator Godiya Makama said in a tribute to Luka, "We will hold onto the memory of your smiles and laughter, your gentle disposition and thoughtfulness, your drive and passion for what you did."
"A true humanitarian"
Prior to joining the IRC in June 2019, Luka worked with Oxfam in Gwoza, Nigeria. "He was a true humanitarian," said IRC country director Feargal O'Connell.
After verifying reports that Luka had been taken hostage on June 8, the IRC appealed to his captors to release him immediately and without condition, and to secure his safe return. On July 22 we received the news that Luka had been executed by his captors. We are deeply saddened and outraged by this barbaric treatment of our colleague. We grieve with Luka’s family and are doing everything we can to support them through this challenging time.
Four other humanitarian workers who were being held with Luka were also killed. We extend our deepest sympathies to their families and colleagues.
This event is a terrible reminder of the dangers faced by communities affected by conflict in Nigeria, and by our staff and all humanitarian workers around the globe. The killing of aid workers is a violation of international law. Aid workers must never be a target.