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Press Release

Under threat, aid work more critical than ever

  • Aid workers face greater risks as needs reach unprecedented scale
  • Aid workers and their facilities should not be targeted
  • The International Rescue Committee calls for respect of international humanitarian law on World Humanitarian Day, August 19th

The below statement can be attributed to Ciaran Donnelly, Senior Vice President of International Programs at the International Rescue Committee:

World Humanitarian Day is an annual tribute to the tens of thousands of brave men and women who have dedicated their lives to humanitarian service, working tirelessly to alleviate suffering worldwide. Their service has indeed never been more necessary: with 130 million people in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance, and an unprecedented 65 million people – the populations of New Zealand, Canada, and Australia combined – displaced from their homes by violence and conflict, the demands on humanitarian action are greater than ever.

And yet, the critical work of humanitarian aid workers remains under threat. Recent attacks on humanitarian staff, most of whom are national, and their facilities highlight the ongoing and increasing dangers they face in carrying out their vital mission. These attacks- from hospitals in Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen to deadly raids in South Sudan- are not only serious violations of international humanitarian law, but a repudiation of the values and aims of humanitarianism. Attacks on aid workers are not just a crime in and of themselves - their impact extends far beyond, penalizing those who depend on this assistance: the world's most vulnerable people. 

One aid worker or facility targeted in conflict is one too many. On this World Humanitarian Day, the IRC calls for the full respect of international humanitarian law by all parties to conflict worldwide, as well as the full respect of the sanctity of humanitarian action, allowing for safe, secure and unimpeded access to those in urgent need.

World Humanitarian Day must serve as a reminder of our solidarity with the millions in need around the world, and our respect of those working on the front lines of the greatest humanitarian challenge of our time.

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.