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World Humanitarian Day A Time To Pay Tribute To Those Who Risk Their Lives For The Less Fortunate

In a post in the Guardian’s “Comment is Free” blog, Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, writes that World Humanitarian Day, observed August 19, “is a day to pay tribute to all humanitarian personnel who have lost their lives in the line of duty and to all those who continue to take risks to relieve the suffering of the less fortunate.” She continues, “Humanitarian work is one of the world’s most dangerous professions. Kidnappings, shootings and death threats are all part of the job description in places such as Sudan, Syria, Somalia and others blighted by conflict,” adding, “Those who work in this rocky terrain are increasingly exposed to risk while maintaining a lifeline to the victims of wars and disasters.”

“Attacks on humanitarian posts have tripled in the last decade,” but “it’s important to remember that the overwhelming majority of these victims are not international aid workers from western countries, but those serving in their own country, working closest to the local population,” Georgieva notes, citing two recent cases where humanitarian workers were killed in Syria. “As with the shooting at ambulances, the misuse of hospitals and the shelling of civilians, these are direct violations of international humanitarian law,” she writes, and concludes, “Let those we honor today inspire us to start our own journey to make the world a better place and bring our human family more closely together” (8/17).