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UN condemns recent attacks on aid workers around the world

Friday November 6, 2020

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid were hit by airstrikes in Aleppo, Syria, last week. Twenty people were killed, including 12 aid workers./Getty Images

The UN’s top relief official has strongly condemned recent attacks on aid workers in different parts of the world, demanding that those who target humanitarians are brought to justice.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), six humanitarian workers were killed last week, in targeted violent attacks in Somalia, in two separate incidents in South Sudan, and in northwest Syria.

The two relief workers killed in South Sudan were working to provide nutrition support to communities affected by floods and violence. In Somalia, the two humanitarian workers were engaged in polio response, bringing critical health services to vulnerable children.

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The UN reported that the two humanitarians killed in northwest Syria were attacked as they were on their way to a child-friendly space, which was run by UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“Attacks directed against humanitarians are … an obscene act against people working hard, often in extraordinarily difficult circumstances, to help vulnerable people,” UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said in a statement on Thursday.

“Those who commit these atrocities must be held to account. Governments must investigate these killings and prosecute the suspects where appropriate. International humanitarian law must be upheld.”

According to Humanitarian Outcomes’ Aid Worker Security Database, major attacks against humanitarian workers in 2019 surpassed all previous years on record.

At least 483 relief workers were attacked: 125 were killed, 234 wounded and 124 kidnapped, in 277 separate incidents. This was an 18 per cent increase in the number of victims compared to 2018.

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