News

    UN: Risks Increasing For Humanitarian Aid Workers

    In observing this year's World Humanitarian Day, the United Nations aims to raise public awareness of the risks run by the men and women who provide aid to victims of conflict and natural disasters around the world.  The day also honors humanitarian workers who have lost their lives or been injured while on the job.

    Global crisis

    Catastrophic floods in Pakistan are affecting an estimated 20 million people.  A powerful earthquake in Haiti early this year has affected about three million people, hundreds of thousands of whom are still without proper shelter.

    Millions of people are suffering from drought in Niger.  Millions more are struggling to survive in war-torn Afghanistan, in Iraq, in the Democratic Republic of Congo --  and the list goes on.

    Wherever there is war, wherever a natural disaster occurs, humanitarian workers quickly appear on the scene. If there were no humanitarian workers, hundreds of millions of victims of man-made and natural disasters would be without help -- and many would not survive.  

    Risk to life

    Despite the vital service they provide, the United Nations says humanitarian workers are under increasing threat.  A spokeswoman for the World Food Program, Emilia Casella, tells VOA humanitarian workers are running increasing risks to their safety.

    "In 1999, there were 30 humanitarians who were killed on the job.  And, I would like to point out the vast majority of those were actually national staff in the country they were working in.  Ten years later, last year, there were 102 humanitarian workers killed on the job and our own organization," Casella said. "The World Food Program lost 16 people last year in incidents, while they were carrying out work to feed the most hungry and vulnerable people in the world."  

    Casella says there is a misperception that humanitarian aid is delivered exclusively by Western organizations, many of whom are motivated by ideological or religious beliefs.  

    She says this false perception is responsible, in large part, for the escalating targeted attacks on humanitarian personnel.  The reality, she says, is quite different.  She notes most humanitarian workers are local people.  And, all humanitarian workers, she says, administer aid in a neutral and independent way.

    "When you see your colleagues who lose their lives or who are injured when they are doing really vital and important jobs, it makes you feel angry and upset that it is not understood that what they are there to do is something that nobody else is willing to do," Casella explaines. "They are there to help children, widows, the elderly--people who cannot help themselves.  

    Events impacting aid operations

    Seven years ago, on August 19, a terrorist bomb destroyed the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad.  At least 22 people were killed, including Special Representative, Sergio Vieiro de Mello.  More than 100 people were wounded.

    A second bombing a month later resulted in the UN withdrawing its 600 staff members from Iraq, to the detriment of humanitarian operations.

    WFP's Casella says it is important for people to understand humanitarian workers are doing a vitally important job.  She says without them, there would be a lot more suffering in the world.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.