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Africa: World Humanitarian Day Highlights Commitment to Serve #nomatterwhat

Conflict and insecurity in countries such as South Sudan and its neighbour to the north are set to make 2023 another year of high death tolls and and injuries for aid workers in the field, the UN warned on Thursday.

The grim forecast comes ahead of World Humanitarian Day, commemorated annually on 19 August.

Since the start of the year, 62 aid workers have been killed, 84 have been wounded and 34 kidnapped, the UN said, citing provisional data from the independent research organization Humanitarian Outcomes. Last year, the death toll reached 116.

Under attack

South Sudan remains the most dangerous place to be a humanitarian. Forty attacks and 22 fatalities have been reported there as of 16 August.

Sudan is a close second, with 17 attacks and 19 fatalities to date, surpassing numbers not seen since the height of the Darfur conflict between 2006 and 2009.

Other aid worker casualties have been recorded in the Central African Republic, Mali, Somalia and Ukraine. Last year, 444 aid workers were attacked while 460 were attacked in 2021, resulting in 141 deaths.

A sombre anniversary

This year’s commemoration of World Humanitarian Day also marks 20 years since the suicide bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq.

Twenty-two staff were killed in the attack, among them Sérgio Vieira de Mello, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and head of the UN Mission in the country. More than 150 local and international aid workers were injured.

“World Humanitarian Day and the Canal Hotel bombing will always be an occasion of mixed and still raw emotions for me and many others,” said the UN’s humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths.

“Every year, nearly six times more aid workers are killed in the line of duty than were killed on that dark day in Baghdad, and they are overwhelmingly local aid workers. Impunity for these crimes is a scar on our collective conscience,” he added.

#NoMatterWhat campaign

The UN and its humanitarian partners aim to help almost 250 million people in crises around the world this year, or 10 times more than in 2003.

Efforts have grown but so have the dangers they face, including rising geopolitical tensions, blatant disregard of international humanitarian law, deliberate attacks and widespread disinformation.

Through the #NoMatterWhat campaign, humanitarians are underlining their commitment to deliver aid despite the challenges.

The campaign highlights how they will continue to support communities in need – no matter who, no matter where, and #NoMatterWhat.

It is being organized by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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