Whether it be the earthquake in Haiti at the start of the year or the devastating floods in Pakistan, millions of people around the world are dependent on humanitarian aid to survive. At the same time, missions are getting ever more dangerous for those providing assistance.
On the occasion of World Humanitarian Day, Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle issued the following statement today (19 August):
“German humanitarian aid happens where it is needed most. It is an expression of our solidarity with the victims of natural disasters and armed conflicts. The sole aim of our assistance is to save and preserve lives, alleviate suffering and ensure those affected get their dignity back.
My gratitude extends today to the humanitarian workers of the United Nations, the Red Cross and the many non-governmental organizations. Often in the most difficult of circumstances, it is them that ensure that our humanitarian assistance actually gets to the people who need it on the ground.
Their work is becoming ever more dangerous and time and again the humanitarian aid workers have to pay for their life-saving mission with their own lives. This makes it all the more important to resolutely defend the fundamental principles of humanitarian aid – humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence – and to work to ensure the humanitarian engagement of the helpers and the life-saving assistance they provide is respected and protected worldwide.”
World Humanitarian Day was launched by the United Nations in December 2008. All around the world tribute is paid on this day to the work of humanitarian aid organizations and those who lost their lives in action are remembered. On 19 August 2003, the UN Office in Iraq was the target of a bomb attack which claimed 22 lives. The number of humanitarian aid workers who lose their lives in the line of duty is continuing to increase. While 30 lost their lives in 1999, last year it was as many as 102.