August 19 was designated as World Humanitarian Day by the UN General Assembly in 2008 to mark the bombing that targeted the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq on Aug. 19, 2003.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has launched a petition with world leaders for the protection of civilians and aid workers in armed conflict. “Each year on World Humanitarian Day, we stand in solidarity with the millions of people affected by conflict and the aid and health workers who risk their lives to assist them. We take the day as an opportunity to remind the world of our collective responsibility to bring that suffering to an end,” said OCHA in a message.
Today, in conflict zones all over the world, civilians are routinely killed or maimed, towns and cities are damaged and destroyed, in targeted or indiscriminate attacks. Three out of four victims of explosive weapons in 2017 were civilians.
People are cut off from food, water and life-saving assistance, in some cases, starved as a deliberate tactic of war, it said.
Humanitarian and medical personnel are killed, injured, kidnapped or otherwise prevented from reaching people in need. They are exposed to legal obstacles and even forms of punishment for impartially providing aid and care to people who need it to survive, said the message.
The petition was launched prior to next month’s gathering of world leaders in New York for the annual UN General Assembly General Debate.