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Safe and Unimpeded Access Critical for Humanitarian Workers, Says UNICEF on World Humanitarian Day

NEW YORK (August 19, 2012) — On World Humanitarian Day, UNICEF calls on all parties in conflicts around the world to allow humanitarian workers safe, unimpeded access to reach children and women in need.

World Humanitarian Day is a time to honor those who face danger and adversity to help others. The day was designated by the General Assembly to mark the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, which killed 22 UN staff. Every day humanitarian aid workers help millions of people around the world, regardless of who they are and where they are. World Humanitarian Day is a global recognition of people helping people.

However, humanitarian work is becoming increasingly dangerous for those who perform it, with a substantial rise in violent attacks against humanitarian workers recorded over the past decade. From January 2011 to present, 112 aid workers were killed in incidents of violence. 

In several countries, conflict and insecurity not only threaten the lives of humanitarian workers—particularly local aid workers—but also prevent them from safely reaching those who are the most vulnerable. Lack of safe access is a major obstacle to humanitarian organizations carrying out life-saving work.

In times of conflict, children and families cannot access the humanitarian assistance and basic social services—like vaccines, health care, clean water and sanitation—that they so desperately need. Consequently, they suffer a double injustice as thousands of children’s lives are lost and countless more suffer unnecessarily every year.

In 2011, UNICEF responded to 292 emergencies in 80 countries, working with partners to provide millions of children with a wide range of life-saving services.

About UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

For additional information, please contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, smasur@unicefusa.org
Kiní Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2634, kschoop@unicefusa.org