Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore on World Humanitarian Day 2018

August 19, 2018


NEW YORK (August 19, 2018) – “Today as we mark World Humanitarian Day, we pause to recognize the dedication and courage of our colleagues around the world, honor our colleagues who have lost their lives in the course of their work, and reavow our commitment to the many millions of children and young people in need of support and protection.

“It has now been 15 years since the Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad, Iraq, when 22 people were killed, including our UNICEF colleague Chris Klein-Beekman and the United Nations envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

“The attack shocked the world, but as humanitarian crises have increased in both frequency and complexity, so, too, has the risk to humanitarian workers – and the death toll among them has risen accordingly.

“The work of our humanitarian colleagues, providing assistance and hope to the millions of people around the world affected by conflict and disaster, is nothing short of heroic. Too often this work is taken for granted. World Humanitarian Day reminds us of their bravery, dedication and sacrifice, as I have witnessed when visiting countries such as Yemen and South Sudan, one of the most dangerous countries for humanitarian workers, and where just last month a UNICEF humanitarian convoy came under attack, with fatal consequences.

“Today, we mourn their deaths and celebrate their devotion. Yet we must do more than pay tribute to our colleagues and friends. We must demand protection wherever possible for those who serve to protect the lives of others, and for those most in need of that protection— the world’s children.

“On World Humanitarian Day, we should be reminded of the reason that we, as individuals and as an organization, do this work. We must recognize and reflect on the suffering of the millions of people – the millions of children – affected by conflict, disaster and poverty around the world.

“As we honor the dedication of the brave women and men who continue to do their jobs every day despite the dangers – let us be reminded of our common cause: working for every child. We work to save their lives. To defend their rights. To keep them safe from harm. To give them a childhood in which they’re protected, healthy and educated. To give them a fair chance to fulfil their potential — so that someday, they can help build a better world.”


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The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, safe water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. UNICEF USA supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit

For more information, contact
Erica Vogel, UNICEF USA, 212.922.2480,