According to the Aid worker security database, 155 humanitarian workers were killed, 171 wounded and 134 kidnapped in 2013.
These figures mean that last year was the most dangerous year for humanitarians, with three times more victims of attacks than in 2003.
International cooperation, humanitarian aid and crisis response commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, who is currently in Iraq to assist those trapped by the conflict, said, “World humanitarian day is an occasion to pay tribute to the people who risk their lives every day to help the victims of war and disasters around the world and an opportunity to highlight the humanitarian challenges we are facing.
“These challenges are all too evident here in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of people are in desperate need of help. But reaching them is being made all the more difficult by an escalating conflict,” she rued, stressing, “It’s no longer business as usual for humanitarian workers – not here nor anywhere else.”
The Bulgarian official explained, “The rising number and the evolving nature of conflicts is making our world ever more fragile.
“In the Middle East we are witnessing horrific levels of violence in which there is no end in sight for the suffering of innocent civilians.
“Across Africa, from Mali in the West to Somalia in the East, stretching across Northern Nigeria, the Central African Republic and South Sudan, there are millions of civilians squeezed inside a belt of conflict fuelled in part by ethnic and religious hatred.
“Bringing relief and assistance to vulnerable children, women and the elderly is becoming more and more difficult,” warned Georgieva.
“And,” she added, “These challenges are making it more dangerous for humanitarian workers to do their jobs.”
“Last year an average of twelve humanitarian workers were killed and more than ten were kidnapped every month. Every week three humanitarians were attacked and wounded.
“With the combined impact of climate change, rapid population growth in places like the Sahel and a rising tide of extremism, we will inevitably see more conflict, more hunger and more people forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods,” the commissioner lamented.
“We live in a world of enormous fragility and because of this we need to focus more on the challenges we face: for the sake of the victims of war and disasters and also for the sake of the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to help them,” she urged.
Marius Wanders of World Vision shared her concerns, saying, “In the last year, we have been witnessing an alarming rise in the level of attacks, including against humanitarian workers who often take great risk to help communities in need and they deserve to be protected.
“At the same time, for the first time ever, the UN has classified simultaneously four major humanitarian crises – Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria and Iraq – as level three, the most severe level.
“This unique situation stretches the capacity of the humanitarian sector to its very limits, not only in terms of financial or technical resources needed but especially in terms of human resources,” he concluded.