United Nations salutes humanitarian workers for averting famine in Somalia

18 Aug 2017

United Nations salutes humanitarian workers for averting famine in Somalia

Mogadishu - The Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Peter de Clercq has commended aid workers and volunteers for their contribution to serving humanity and averting a famine that threatened Somalia earlier this year.

Mr. de Clercq spoke during an event to mark World Humanitarian Day in Mogadishu and thanked aid workers for risking their lives on a daily basis to save the lives of others in distress.

“We salute and thank aid workers for their bravery and unwavering commitment, in particular those on the frontline, closest to those in need, saving lives and protecting livelihoods. It’s through their commitment that famine has been averted in Somalia. They are our daily inspiration,” he noted.

Mr. de Clercq, who is also a Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Somalia, noted that humanitarian workers had not only suffered death, injuries and abductions, but also expulsion from the country in the course of fulfilling their duties.

He said that more than 100 incidents targeting humanitarian workers had been reported thus far this year, and four of them had been killed.

“In Somalia, health and aid workers, who work and care for people affected by violence are being targeted. Medicine and relief supplies are looted. Humanitarian workers are detained or denied access to people in desperate need. This is unacceptable”, he added.

Somalia’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs, Mohamed Moalim, promised that the government will offer protection to humanitarian workers as well as needy civilians.

“The government will also do its utmost to protect not only civilians, but also aid workers who continue to risk their lives to save others”, Mr. Moalim said.

The event in Mogadishu also featured speeches by other senior United Nations officials, including those responsible for human rights, refugees and children among others.

This year’s theme for the day that will be observed worldwide on August 19 is “Not a target”.

In an interview, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Somalia, Steven Lauwerier, regretted that humanitarian workers had been turned into targets.

“As an aid worker in Somalia we should not be a target, and sometimes we’re a target when delivering aid in this country”, Mr. Lauwerier said, noting that four staff members of UNICEF had been killed two years ago in a bomb attack in Garowe.

He said humanitarian workers should be allowed to do their work unhindered as they deliver aid to the most vulnerable people in Somalia.

The Chairperson of the Save Somali Women and Children organization, Amina Haji Elmi, said it was time for the world to help the Horn of Africa country emerge from the current humanitarian situation facing Somalia.

“The world has to look another time to Somali people and to support because it’s still a long way. You can understand that when there’s no law and order, the situation of protection is getting worse”, Ms Elmi said, adding that women and children were the most vulnerable targets of violence.

World Humanitarian Day is observed every year on 19 August to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world.