Global, 19 August 2023 (TDI): World Humanitarian Day on August 19 marks the solemn remembrance of the terrorist attack on the UN compound at the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, an event that occurred 20 years ago.
This attack claimed the lives of 22 UN staff members, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq at that time.
The tragedy underscored the significance of humanitarian efforts in challenging environments and served as inspiration for global peace initiatives.
In anticipation of this year’s World Humanitarian Day, the United Nations has warned about the likelihood of a significant number of casualties among aid workers in 2023.
Current data from the Aid Worker Security Database indicates that 62 humanitarian workers have lost their lives, 84 have been injured, and 34 abducted so far this year.
South Sudan remains the most insecure region, with 40 attacks resulting in 22 fatalities, followed by Sudan with 17 attacks and 19 deaths.
Similar incidents have been recorded in regions like the Central African Republic, Mali, Somalia, and Ukraine. These casualties highlight the pressing need to address impunity for such crimes and uphold international humanitarian law.
This year’s World Humanitarian Day also commemorates the 20th anniversary of the 2003 suicide bombing at the UN headquarters in Baghdad, emphasizing the ongoing risks aid workers face.
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Martin Griffiths, the UN’s humanitarian chief, draws attention to the stark contrast between this incident and the annual rate of aid worker casualties. He calls for a focus on combatting impunity and ensuring accountability for violations.
Despite security challenges, humanitarian organizations unite under the hashtag #NoMatterWhat to reaffirm their commitment to serving communities in need.
The UN and its partners aim to assist nearly 250 million crisis-affected individuals, a significant increase from 2003.
Gender-based Violence and Women Protection
In a world dealing with humanitarian emergencies such as violent conflict, extreme weather events, and political turmoil, a consistent reality emerges: women and girls bear the heaviest burden.
Amid the turmoil and uncertainty during these crises, the incidence of gender-based violence escalates.
There is a rise in maternal mortality rates, unsafe and unintended pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections. Regrettably, women and girls often find themselves with the least access to food.
The rights of women and girls should not become casualties of crises. The global community must promptly increase its assistance to safeguard the well-being of women and girls and take more robust measures to combat gender-based violence, holding those responsible accountable, UNFPA asserted.
The use of sexual violence as a terror tactic in times of conflict is both reprehensible and a violation of human rights and international humanitarian laws.
UNFPA addresses challenges faced by women and girls during crises. Survivors of violence often hesitate to seek assistance due to stigma and insecurity.
Adequate funding is crucial, with $54.8 billion needed in June to support 249 million individuals globally. UNFPA appeals for $1.2 billion in 2023 to aid 66 million women, girls, and young individuals in 65 countries.
UNFPA’s humanitarian personnel offer essential services to women and girls, particularly in hard-to-reach areas. Collaborations with local women-led organizations aim to provide tailored solutions and support their unique needs.
Moreover, mobile clinics and teams play a crucial role in delivering reproductive health and protection services to vulnerable populations, reflecting the dedication to preserving health, rights, and safety even in challenging circumstances.