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Record numbers of civilians and aid workers killed in 2018

Press Release – Council for International Development

A high number of civilians continue to be killed or injured by conflict, including civilian humanitarian personnel from International NGOs such as those based in New Zealand. – World Humanitarian Day

17 August 2018

A high number of civilians continue to be killed or injured by conflict, including civilian humanitarian personnel from International NGOs such as those based in New Zealand.

2018 continues the historically high levels of civilians killed in long-standing conflicts such as Afghanistan, South Sudan, Yemen and Syria.

The recent attack on students in Kabul, along with last weeks school bus attack in Yemen (which injured or killed over 80 people), illustrates the urgent need to uphold international legal protections so people have safe spaces in war and complex emergencies.

Many of the most insecure places are where people are the most poor. The World Bank states that two billion people live in countries affected by fragility and conflict. Increasingly conflicts are taking place in highly populated urban areas, and the impact upon civilian populations, and their livelihoods can be devastating. This is expected to increase by 2030, when nearly half of the world’s poor are likely to live in conflict-affected situations. This will see continued increases in the numbers of refugees unless more is done to promote peace and support countries affected by ongoing violence.

The Council for International Development calls for greater government support for the enactment of United Nation’s Security Council resolution 2286 to protect civilians, and humanitarian personnel. New Zealand was pivotal in securing the unanimous adoption of resolution 2286 in May 2016.

“The New Zealand government should continue to put pressure on the Security Council to institute humanitarian safe zones where civilians and aid workers are at risk. We would like to see this commitment continue as part of a more integrated approach to sustaining and building peace, “ says Mark Mitchell, Chair of the Council for International Development NGO Disaster Relief Forum.

New Zealand’s international NGOs work closely with communities impacted by conflict, disaster and complex emergencies, and help civilians caught up in protracted conflict. But while providing vital resources, humanitarian personnel from NGOs are also victims of conflict-based violence. There were 158 security incidents against aid workers reported in 2017, affecting 313 aid workers. The Aid Worker Security Database reports that the reported 139 aid worker killed in 2017 represents the 2nd highest annual death toll of humanitarian personnel since 2013 (156 deaths).

“New Zealanders have a proud history of standing against injustice and promoting peace. On World Humanitarian Day, New Zealanders are amongst the many humanitarian aid workers leaving the comforts of home in support of others. We would like to see an increase in dialogue and awareness of the context that many of the global poor face on a daily basis,” says Mark Mitchell,

World Humanitarian Day pays tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world. The date marks the day of the 2003 terrorist attack upon the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, killing 22 people including UN’s top representative in Iraq.

World Humanitarian Day is 19 August.

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