The New Dawn (Monrovia)

20 August 2012

Liberia: EU Warns Against Attacks On Unarmed Civilians

The EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, has strongly warned that "Crimes against unarmed civilians are never justified".

A statement issued in Monrovia by the EU delegation to Liberia to mark World Humanitarian Day 2012, which was celebrated on Sunday, 19 August 2012, Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva warned that "Attacks on humanitarian posts have tripled in the last decade.

The statement also quoted the EU Commissioner as saying that since 2011, 109 humanitarian workers have been killed, while 143 others were wounded and 132 kidnapped according to the United Nations".

The EU official noted: "the overwhelming majority of these victims were not international aid workers, but those serving in their own country working closest to the local population. Crimes against unarmed civilians are never justified. When these crimes are committed against people who dedicate their lives to saving others the injustice is even more apparent".

Reflecting on World Humanitarian Day, Commissioner Georgieva said: "Nine years ago on this day the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and twenty one of his colleagues were killed in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad. It is a day to pay solemn tribute to all humanitarian personnel who have worked in the promotion of the humanitarian cause and lost their lives following that call".

She disclosed that: "The Canal Hotel bombing irreversibly changed the security situation in which humanitarian aid workers operate. Humanitarian work is one of the world's most dangerous professions.

Kidnappings, shootings and death threats are all too often part of the job description in places blighted by conflict such as Sudan, Syria and Somalia. Aid workers are increasingly exposed to risk while maintaining a lifeline to the victims of conflicts and disasters around the world. It is unacceptable that they are subject to harassment, abduction or even murder while serving humanity."

The EU statement quoted Commissioner Georgieva emphasizing that the safety and security of aid workers is directly linked to safe access to vulnerable populations and the sustainable delivery of assistance, noting that thousands of vulnerable people can be left without essential support if programs are suspended or closed due to insecurity.

According to her, they also draw the world closer together by reminding us that we are one family, sharing the same dreams for a peaceful planet, where all people can live in safety, and with dignity.

She described the day as a day to examine our own lives and consider what more we can do to help - to reach out to people enduring conflict, disaster and hardship.

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