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First World Humanitarian Day


19 August 2009 - UNICEF joins the rest of the humanitarian community in commemorating the UN's first World Humanitarian Day on 19 August 2009. UNICEF cannot forget 19 August 2003 and the attack against Canal Hotel - the UN headquarter in Baghdad - where 22 people lost their lives and many were injured. Among the victims was Christopher Klein Beekman, 32, UNICEF's Programme Coordinator in Iraq. A few months ago in another bomb attack, this time in Peshawar, Pakistan, Perseveranda So, 52, who served as Chief of Education in UNICEF’s Islamabad office was killed. These were humanitarian workers. Any threat to the safety of humanitarian workers around the world is unacceptable.

These threats and attacks have a double impact. People whose only motive is to help others are being killed and wounded. And as a result, aid that is essential for the survival of millions of civilians, many of them women and children, is often scaled back in the wake of the attacks. Every effort must be made to ensure aid workers can carry out their life-saving activities as securely as possible. The total number of people affected by disasters has tripled over the past decade to an average of 211 million people each year and children and women typically represent 65 per cent of those affected. Of an estimated 26 million people currently displaced by armed conflicts and violence, about 50 percent are children.

Though emergencies grow increasingly complex, their impacts ever more devastating, UNICEF remains dedicated to providing life-saving assistance to children affected by disasters, and to protecting their rights in any circumstances, no matter how difficult, in health and nutrition, water and sanitation, protection, education and HIV/AIDS.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230,
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806,