MORE people have died delivering aid in Syria than anywhere else in 2017, an analysis by international aid organisation CARE Australia has found.
Ahead of World Humanitarian Day on Saturday, August 19, new figures reveal 80 aid workers have been killed this year, including 29 in Syria where there has been intense fighting since 2011.
“Syria is the most dangerous place on earth to be an aid worker,” CARE Australia’s Gender in Emergencies Specialist Isadora Quay said.
“August is shaping up to be the most deadly month of 2017 for aid workers. This month we have seen the tragic deaths of 16 humanitarian staff in Syria, Central African Republic and Afghanistan.”
The shocking news comes ahead of World Humanitarian Day on August 19, which takes place each year on the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad when 22 people were killed. The day pays tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and rallies support for families affected by crises around the world.
“Every major emergency we’re responding to today involves conflict and aid workers are facing increasing threats when working in the field,” Ms Quay said. “In places like Syria it’s become so dangerous it’s impossible for aid workers to reach many areas where families are dependent on aid for survival.”
Ms Quay said in any conflict, it was up to all sides to ensure aid workers were given safe access to those in need and not targeted. “It’s both a moral and a legal obligation. Aid workers are not targets. Relief work must not be obstructed.”
CARE’s research found countries in East Africa and in Yemen, which are currently on the brink of famine, are among the most dangerous places for aid workers. “The food crisis in Yemen and East Africa risks becoming the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War Two, with 22 million people now facing extreme food shortages,” Ms Quay said.
“The situation is catastrophic and the common element in all these countries is conflict. In such challenging environments, aid agencies such as CARE are constantly strengthening their management of staff safety.”
Already this year, 29 aid workers have been caught up in major security incidents in South Sudan, 14 in Nigeria, 12 in Somalia and eight in Yemen. In South Sudan alone, 14 aid workers have been killed this year.
In 2016, CARE Australia responded to 15 emergencies across 13 countries. Donate to CARE Australia’s Global Emergency Fund at care.org.au/emergency