On World Humanitarian Day, the United States honors the humanitarian aid workers who continue to sacrifice so much to protect and assist the world’s most vulnerable populations. We commend the bravery and compassion of those who put the welfare of others before their own, and we are grateful for humanitarians around the world who continue to work in complex environments, often at great personal risk. We recall the origin of this day twenty years ago – August 19, 2003 – when the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello and his colleagues were killed in a bombing while fulfilling their vocation of helping communities in need.
Tragically, global humanitarian crises are growing. Conflict, political repression, economic insecurity, persecution, disasters, and other crises have forced historic numbers of people— more than 110 million — to flee their homes. Humanitarian workers have been targets of violence and some tragically killed, even as they provide lifesaving assistance. Their work is dangerous, but essential.
The United States is dedicated to addressing humanitarian crises and resolving conflicts through coordinated international responses and diplomacy, and we encourage other nations to contribute to meeting global humanitarian needs. We call for immediate, safe, and unhindered access for humanitarian actors to vulnerable populations, including across conflict lines, so they may deliver aid and services without interference. Today and every day, the United States is proud to celebrate humanitarian aid workers worldwide.