Protect those who work to protect children and families

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UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake
Statement on World Humanitarian Day
NEW YORK, 19 August 2014 – “The nature of humanitarian work is often dangerous. Aid
workers endure harsh conditions and risk harm to save lives, rebuild communities, and bear
witness in conflicts, catastrophes, and crises.

“These emergencies have increased in both frequency and complexity. So, too, has the risk to
humanitarian workers – and the death toll among them has risen accordingly.

“Consider only the last month:

“In South Sudan, humanitarian workers have been killed by armed fighters while supporting the
mission to reach malnourished children before it is too late.

“In Gaza, aid workers have lost their lives in shelling attacks while providing critical care to the
sick, the wounded, and the dying, and comforting families of the dead.

“In Sierra Leone, in Liberia, in Guinea, health workers trying desperately to save lives in the Ebola
epidemic have succumbed to the deadly virus themselves. Others have been threatened with
bodily harm for trying to stop the spread of the disease.

“This is only a few weeks; the 12 months prior have seen the loss of many more lives. The year
2013 recorded the greatest number of casualties among humanitarian workers. Early this year, an
attack on a restaurant in Afghanistan killed four aid workers, including two UNICEF nutrition and
health colleagues.

“The loss of these heroes is a loss to the entire humanitarian community – and the world. On
World Humanitarian Day, we mourn their deaths and mark their sacrifice. We also honour the
dedication of all the brave women and men who continue to do their jobs every day despite the
risks – in the service of our common cause: A more safe, just, and peaceful world.

“But we must do more than pay tribute to our colleagues and friends. We must demand protection
wherever possible for those who protect the lives of others, and for those most in need of that
protection: children. For the increase in humanitarian crises must not be allowed to decrease our
common sense of humanity. “


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About World Humanitarian Day

In December 2008, the sixty-third session of the UN General Assembly decided to designate 19
August as World Humanitarian Day. August 19 is the date on which a brutal terrorist attack on UN
headquarters in Baghdad in 2003 killed 22 people, including UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.
World Humanitarian Day honours those, who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and
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those, who continue to bring assistance and relief to millions. The Day also seeks to draw attention
to humanitarian needs worldwide and the importance of international cooperation in meeting these
needs.

About UNICEF:
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our
partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical
action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the
benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
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For further information, please contact:
Rita Ann Wallace, UNICEF New York, Tel.: 1 212 326-7586, Mobile: +1 917 213 4034,
rwallace@unicef.org