Statement from Refugees International Vice President for Programs and Policy Hardin Lang:
“Today marks two decades since the tragic suicide bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. Twenty-two UN staff died in the attack. Scores more were injured. Those who perished were among the best and brightest the world body had to offer.
August 19, 2003, was a grim day for the United Nations and the humanitarian community more broadly. Unfortunately, it was not the last. Humanitarian aid workers continue to be targeted in conflict and crisis zones across the globe. Last year, more than 110 aid workers were killed while engaged in humanitarian action. So far this year, more than 60 have died.
The vast majority of the fallen come from the countries and communities in which they served. These local aid workers are always on the front lines of the toughest and most dangerous relief operations. They absorb a disproportionate share of the risk. And they pay the greatest price.
Today, we remember those who died and redouble our efforts to advocate for the safety of humanitarian workers everywhere, especially those from communities on the front line of crisis. This means renewed calls for belligerents to respect international humanitarian law and accountability for perpetrators who target those engaged in humanitarian action.
It also means concrete steps by donors and international aid agencies to fairly share risk with local colleagues and counterparts by equipping, supplying, and supporting them with the means to carry out their relief efforts as safely and securely as possible. This is the least they are owed. It is also a powerful way to honor the memory of those killed two decades ago in Baghdad.”
To schedule an interview, contact Refugees International VP for Strategic Outreach Sarah Sheffer at firstname.lastname@example.org.