Whether it’s a natural disaster such as an earthquake or a humanitarian crisis in the Sudan, around the world national and international aid organizations provide aid to help ease the plight of the victims of such events. They carry out their work under difficult conditions and at great personal risk.
On the occasion of the first World Humanitarian Day (tomorrow, 19 August) Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued the following statement today (18 August):
“We’ve all seen the pictures of refugee camps – be they in Afghanistan or Darfur. They are the last resort for people who have fled their homes due to natural disasters or armed conflicts. These places of refuge exist thanks to the many humanitarian workers who act quickly despite appalling conditions to alleviate the worst suffering. I would like to acknowledge these workers and express my deep gratitude. They provide refugees with some of life’s basic necessities and thus restoring a measure of hope.
In the field of humanitarian aid, swift action is of the essence: It is crucial for preventing epidemics and ensuring that the refugees’ basic needs are quickly met. That’s why I am delighted to say that, with the help of the Bundestag, we have been able to nearly double the Federal Foreign Office’s resources for humanitarian aid since 2006.”
Launched by the United Nations in December 2008, the first World Humanitarian Day will take place on 19 August 2009. The work of humanitarian aid personnel around the world will be recognized and, in particular, those humanitarian workers who lost their lives during a mission will be remembered. On 19 August 2003 the UN office in Iraq was the target of a bombing that claimed the lives of 22 people, including UN Special Envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello. In 2009 alone, 69 humanitarian workers have been killed.
On behalf of the German Government, the Federal Foreign Office annually supports over 300 individual measures in crisis regions around the world. Regional priorities are the crises in the Sudan, Somalia, the Congo, Afghanistan and the Palestinian Territories. In addition, Germany provides aid following natural disasters such as the earthquake in China or the cyclone in Myanmar. A total of 123 million euro has been made available for this purpose in 2009.
The Federal Foreign Office implements its humanitarian aid measures through international organizations such as the ICRC or UNHCR as well as through humanitarian non-governmental organizations. The work of these organizations and the commitment of the aid workers on the ground is vital for the success of Germany’s humanitarian aid.