World Humanitarian Day: Statement by the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell and Commissioner Janez Lenarčič

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Our world continues to be shaken by violent conflicts and destructive natural disasters that often push local communities into humanitarian crises.

Ahead of the World Humanitarian Day 2022, we honour all those working on the frontlines, who constantly put their own lives at risk to save others and reduce human suffering. In 2022, attacks against aid workers have led to 40 humanitarians being killed, 136 kidnapped, and 68 wounded.

The rules of war are clear. Civilians, including medical personnel and aid workers must be always protected and never targeted. All parties to any conflict must respect and follow International Humanitarian Law which is not a choice, but an obligation.

This year there have been countless violations of International Humanitarian Law as warring parties neglect civilians getting caught in the crossfire. Some of the most gruesome attacks have taken place right at the EU’s border as Russia shows no mercy to the civilian population of Ukraine.  

Russia’s invasion has not only led to skyrocketing humanitarian needs in Ukraine but had dramatic effects across the world. As millions of tonnes of grain are blocked in Ukraine, the war has worsened an already serious global food crisis, unparalleled to what we have seen before.

The people affected most by the soaring prices and food shortages are the ones whose access to food has already been hampered by conflicts, climate change and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Populations in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen and Afghanistan are at risk of famine, while many more countries are facing severe food insecurity.

The EU has significantly ramped up its funding to fight the global food crisis, and we are inviting the international donor community to follow suit. This is how we as donors can support the selfless dedication of humanitarian workers to deliver food, healthcare and shelter – but also hope – to the most vulnerable communities in the world.

Background

World Humanitarian Day commemorates the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, when 22 humanitarian workers lost their lives.

According to the United Nations, 235 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance in 2021, which was the highest number recorded in decades. In 2022, this figure has significantly increased and is likely to exceed the initial forecast of 274 million, as climate change and conflicts have further exacerbated people’s vulnerability to humanitarian crises. The EU, as second biggest donor of the UN system, provides the biggest share of its funding to the World Food Programme (WFP), followed by UNDP, UNICEF and UNHCR.

The EU together with its Member States is among the leading donors of humanitarian aid in the world. The European Commission will provide humanitarian funding of almost €11.5 billion over the period 2021-2027.

The EU’s humanitarian actions are based on the four principles of humanitarian assistance: humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence.

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