Commemorating World Humanitarian Day

First published 19th Aug 2014

Today marks the 7th annual World Humanitarian Day, dedicated to the efforts of humanitarian workers around the world, including those who have lost their lives in the line of duty. World Humanitarian Day commemorates the 19 August 2003 bombing of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, which resulted in the deaths of 22 UN staff, including the UN Special Representative in Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello. 

In the decade since the 2003 attack in Baghdad, aid worker casualties have tripled, reaching over 100 deaths per year. Sadly attacks on aid workers, particularly in states plagued by on-going conflict including South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria, are becoming more common. Protecting these workers is essential to ensuring the effective delivery of aid that is desperately needed by women, men and children around the world. 

The practice of casualty recording can not only provide valuable information for humanitarian workers themselves to plan humanitarian responses, but can also provide information to humanitarian organisation about the environment which they work in and risk to their staff. By creating an accurate record of each death and injury, including information regarding perpetrators and weapons used, data produced from casualty recording can promote dialogue with conflict parties to avoid harm to humanitarian workers in the future and ensure that conflict parties are compliant with International Humanitarian Law.

Today, under the United Kingdom presidency, the Security Council will have a briefing on the protection of humanitarian workers to mark World Humanitarian Day. States are encourage to highlight the role of casualty recording by the UN and others in contributing to the protection of humanitarian workers. 

This year, the UN and its partners continue their groundbreaking work on the protection of humanitarian aid workers under the theme 'The World Needs More...'. 

To show your support for the campaign, or to get involved, visit: www.worldhumanitarianday.org