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Safe and unimpeded access critical for humanitarian workers, says UNICEF on World Humanitarian Day

2012-08-17

NEW YORK, 19 AUGUST 2012 – On World Humanitarian Day, UNICEF called 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 honour 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 (102 national and 10 international) 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 organisations 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.

Facts UNICEF and Emergencies:

In 2011, UNICEF responded to 292 emergencies in 80 countries, including emergency/humanitarian, recovery or fragile situations.  Working with partners UNICEF assisted with the following achievements.

Nutrition

  • Over 1.8 million severely malnourished children aged 6-59 months benefitting from therapeutic feeding programmes

Health 

  • 52.3 million Children aged 6 months - 15 years vaccinated for measles
  • 257 million families that received two Insecticide treated bednets

WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene)

  • Over 18.5 million people with access to safe water to agreed standards
  • Over 4.86 million people with access to appropriately designed toilets
  • Over 10.2 million children with access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in their learning environment 

Child Protection

  • Over 2 million children with safe access to community spaces for socializing, play, learning, etc.
  • Over 11,600 children associated with armed forces or groups reintegrated into their families and communities

HIV / AIDS

  • 835,000 pregnant women with access to prevention, care and treatment including prevention of mother to child transmission

Education

  • 8.76 million School- aged children, including adolescents, accessing formal and non-formal basic education (including temporary learning spaces and play and early learning for young children)


You can help make a difference by getting involved on World Humanitarian Day.  Go to www.whd-iwashere.org, click on ‘Take Action’, and scroll down to UNICEF.    

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About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries – more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive.

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For further information:

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