World Humanitarian Day: Actors call for renewed effort to protect aid workers

Humanitarian actors across the globe have called for renewed effort to protect aid workers and celebrate their accomplishments for risking their lives to save others.

The call was made at a Media briefing in commemoration of the World Humanitarian Day, in Abuja, Nigeria.

The Chief of Mission, International Organisation for Migration, Frantz Celestin, said their services were challenged by movement restrictions and insufficient resources that were being outspaced by the ever increasing needs , including those triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic

According to Frantz Celestin, it’s a celebration of dedication, perseverance and self sacrifice of real life heroes who go to extraordinary lengths in extraordinary times to help men, women and children while lives have been upended by crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the workers who were mostly working in their own communities, make small miracles happen every day, saving lives all around them at the risk of their own lives.

” Your Excellency, humanitarian workers and civilians are not targets and should not be. As we celebrate, we remember our colleagues who have lost their lives in the line of duty in Rann, Ngala, Monguno and Damasak. IOM condemns attacks on and abduction of humanitarian workers. I join the call from all of us to do all that’s necessary to ensure that humanitarian workers are able to provide life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable, making sure that NO ONE IS LEFT BEHIND”. the IOM emphasised.

Biggest Challenge

Similarly, the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, said the COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest challenge to humanitarian operations around he world.

Represented by the Senior Humanitarian Officer, the ECOWAS President, Jean Claude Kassi noted that the situation emphasises the reason for localisation of resources to enhance the first responder initiative.

” As humanitarian aid workers deliver aid and medical workers help the injured and Sick, often times they are directly targeted and prevented from bringing relief and care to those in distress. Given the recklessness exhibited in modern warfare, civilians more often than not, become targets of most conflicts”.

Accordingly, this calls for the moral and legal obligation of all parties to a conflict to abide by the rules of International Humanitarian Law, as provided by the Geneva Convention of 1948 and the additional protocols”. He noted.

Mr Kassi said the ECOWAS Commission, the International Committee of the Red Cross and ECOWAS member States have been collaborating for over ten years to improve member States compliance to International Humanitarian law.

“In 2019, 483 aid workers were attacked. 125 killed, 234 wounded and 124 kidnapped in a total of 277 separate incidents.

In 2019 the WHO reported 1,009 attacks against healthcare workers and facilities, resulting in 199 deaths and 628 injuries. 90% of all attacks worldwide were on national staff.

“In July, 2020, five aid workers were killed in the North-east of Nigeria”.

Attacks Unacceptable

For his part, the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Nigeria and the ECOWAS, Edward kalon said the theme for this year’s commemoration #reallifeheroes, was to emphasise the importance of the role played by the humanitarian workers globally, their sacrifices and the risk they take daily, to save others.

Represented by the United Nations Office of the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs, Trand Jensen, Mr Kalon therefore noted that “the rate of attacks on aid workers across the globe was unacceptable”.

Back home in Nigeria, it’s a twin celebration as the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development clocks a year.

The Minister, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, said in Nigeria, the day provides an opportunity for sober reflection on the humanitarian challenges in the country and also to acknowledge and celebrate those who put themselves at risk or may have lost their lives in service to others.

“On Thursday August 21st, 2020, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development will officially be a year old. It has been an eventful, interesting and challenging year, and despite the often demanding situations;

“The Ministry and its Agencies have provided humanitarian interventions and proactively developed structures to prevent and mitigate disaster. All, while building socio-economic resilience through the evolution of inclusive social safety net programmes,” she said.

According to her, the creation of the Ministry, placed Nigeria in an advantageous position to tackle the challenges and vulnerabilities that emerged due to the COVID – 19 Pandemic.

“The pandemic created humanitarian needs, and tested the capacity of Nigeria and indeed, the entire world, to respond to disasters. Our resilience as a Nation, lies in the lessons we are learning from the strategies we have collectively deployed in response to the pandemic, especially, as it concerns providing for the vulnerable amongst us – the elderly, the children, the disabled, and the persons of concern”.

“We have gained new insights and emerged with fresh perspectives regarding what works and what doesn’t”.

“Despite the vulnerabilities we have faced as a young Ministry, we remain resolute in our commitment to fulfil our mandate which has informed the theme of our Anniversary – Service to humanity,” the Minister explained.

Also speaking at the event, the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, an Agency under the Humanitarian Ministry, Senator Basheer Mohammed said the Commission was working tirelessly to ensure the safe and early return of the persons of concern.

“Today, is a memorable day of the year for us all, especially for our persons of concern in various parts of the country, who have shown incredible courage and resilience, and have persevered through unbearable conditions.

“As an agency under the ministry of humanitarian affairs that is responsible for the protection, care, maintenance and provision of durable solutions to persons of concern, we make a strong statement that we will continue to strive for their return, rehabilitation and re integration,” he said

The day was set aside to celebrate the best of humanity, local health workers, members of Civil Society organisations, local communities, Government Staff, INGO and UN staff who have committed to serving others in the face of challenges.

Source: Voice of Nigeria