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The World Humanitarian Day to remember 82 aid workers killed

Press Release – Council for International Development

New Zealands community of disaster relief workers are marking World Humanitarian Day and remembering the 82 aid workers who have died so far in 2017.World Humanitarian Day a time to remember 82 aid workers killed

New Zealand’s community of disaster relief workers are marking World Humanitarian Day – and remembering the 82 aid workers who have died so far in 2017.

World Humanitarian Day, which takes place every year on 19 August, recognizes aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and is a day to advocate for humanitarian action. The day was designated by the United Nations eight years ago to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq.

“Every day, New Zealand and other aid workers save lives in conflicts and disasters, braving tremendous dangers and difficulties to deliver assistance to people who need it the most,” says Mark Mitchell, Chair of the NGO Disaster Relief Forum (NDRF) – a network of New Zealand relief agencies. “Saving lives means sharing some of the risk and hardship faced by people living in crisis. World Humanitarian Day is a chance to recognise the dedication and sacrifice of the men and women who have taken up these daunting professional challenges.”

For far too many humanitarians in some of the world’s worst conflicts, the business of saving lives is becoming more dangerous – especially for local staff – as armed groups and even armies use attacks on aid workers and relief operations as a weapon of war. In 2016, there were 288 incidents of violence committed against aid workers worldwide. According to the UN, over two thirds of all attacks on humanitarians took place in just four countries – South Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen. Just this week, on August 15, unidentified attackers gunned down and killed three local employees of a U.S.-based aid organization in Afghanistan.

“The delivery of relief assistance to civilians in distress is a basic principle of international law,” says Mitchell. “The targeting of aid workers in these countries is a flagrant violation of that law, and an affront to our common humanity.”

Last year, South Sudan overtook Afghanistan as the most dangerous country for humanitarians. There are currently nine New Zealand aid agencies conducting relief operations in South Sudan.

To learn more about New Zealand’s humanitarians and ways you can help deliver life-saving assistance to crises around the world, visit the Council for International Development website at

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