Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message on World Humanitarian Day, to be observed on 19 August:
We mark World Humanitarian Day every year on 19 August, to express solidarity with people affected by humanitarian crises and pay tribute to the humanitarian workers who help them. This year’s commemoration marks the fifteenth anniversary since the attack on the United Nations in Baghdad, Iraq, in which 22 of our colleagues were killed. Since that tragedy, which led to this day’s designation as World Humanitarian Day, over 4,000 aid workers have been killed, injured, detained or kidnapped. That is an average of 300 fellow humanitarians killed, detained or injured every year.
Civilians in conflict zones also continue to be killed and maimed, deliberately or in indiscriminate attacks. Last year, the United Nations recorded the deaths or injuries of more than 26,000 civilians in attacks in just six countries: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen.
Around the world, conflict is forcing record numbers of people from their homes, with over 65 million people now displaced. Children are recruited by armed groups and used to fight. Women are abused and humiliated. As humanitarian workers deliver aid and medical workers provide for those in need, they are all too often targeted or treated as threats.
On World Humanitarian Day, I call on global leaders to do everything in their power to protect people caught up in conflict. And I call on all who are concerned to join our campaign at worldhumanitarianday.org to show that civilians are #NotATarget. Together, we stand in solidarity with civilians in conflict, and with the humanitarian workers who risk their lives to help them.