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new f2World Humanitarian Day 2013: statement by European Union Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva

Ahead of World Humanitarian Day, observed on August 19 2013, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, made the following statement:

"Join me in paying tribute to the courageous women and men who provide live-saving assistance to victims of natural disasters and conflicts around the world. Thanks to the daily efforts of humanitarian workers, millions of people survive unimaginable hardship and have a chance to see a future better than their past.

Collectively, the European Union is the world's largest aid donor, but money alone does not distribute food to the hungry, does not dress the wounds of the injured and does not build a roof above homeless refugees. Humanitarian workers do and I am proud that we make their work possible.

Doctors, nurses, psychologists, engineers, logisticians, programme officers, information managers, security advisors and the rest of the humanitarian community help the victims of crises in difficult settings. But they often fall victim themselves: preliminary data for this year alone reveal that at least one humanitarian worker gets murdered, wounded or kidnapped every day. The risks are especially high in Afghanistan and Syria, but International Humanitarian Law is broken frequently and blatantly in many other crises.

This affects not only humanitarians, but also the people whom they serve. Denying relief workers access to those in need can leave thousands of people without shelter, food, safe water and health care. When humanitarian organisations are forced to leave a disaster area because of high insecurity, the communities left behind pay the price.

The ability of European solidarity to reach out to the victims in crises and disasters is also hurt by the violence against humanitarians. The European Commission provided relief assistance to over 120 million people in more than 90 countries last year alone thanks to our extensive network of field experts. They often work in dangerous conditions: in recent years, EU humanitarian teams have been temporarily evacuated from Bangui (Central African Republic), Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Goma (DR Congo), Kabul (Afghanistan) and Damascus (Syria). This creates additional obstacles to serving those trapped in hostilities.

This is why, in the name of the victims and for the sake of being able to deliver our assistance effectively and in tune with the solidarity of our citizens, I appeal to parties in conflict, governments and non-governmental actors, to protect humanitarians and allow them to perform their life-saving mission. This is a matter of life and death. The world needs more respect and protection for humanitarian aid workers."

For further information

MEMO/13/742: World Humanitarian Day: the European Union's support for humanitarian work

The European Commission's Directorate-General of Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection:

Website of the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva: