Wednesday February 21, 2024

World Humanitarian Day

August 19, 2018

World Humanitarian Day falls on 19th August every year to remind us of the work and risks taken by humanitarians around the world in helping those affected by conflict and disasters. This year the global community is supporting the #NotATarget campaign to bring attention to all civilians caught up in armed struggles and conflict.

The UK recognizes the right of all people in need to appropriate and timely support, and in every circumstance will call on all parties to respect the rights of civilians and to allow access for humanitarian assistance.

Over the last three years in Pakistan, almost 2 million people have returned to their areas of origin in the merged districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) following military operations. We know that 94% of those who were displaced have now returned, and we must make sure that humanitarian workers continue to have access to those in need.

Through the Department for International Development (DFID), the UK has supported the efforts of the United Nations (UN) and non-governmental organisations to provide water and sanitation, shelter assistance, and livelihoods support, which allow people to start rebuilding their lives. We have been assisting those displaced by fighting and by natural disasters across the country since 2012. From 2015 until now, we have provided assistance to more than 1 million people who were displaced in KP, and who have now returned to their homes.

It is tragic to see that Pakistan still remains a target for humanitarian attacks. The past few years have seen health workers and polio vaccinators being targeted while offering immunisations and health advice. The killing of two Lady Health Workers in Quetta earlier this year proves that it takes enormous courage to help others in need.

So let’s take this day as an opportunity to raise our voices and to pledge to do more to save lives and restore human dignity. It is time to work harder to ensure that people returning to their areas of origin continue to have access to humanitarian services offered by those best able to provide them: the UN, the Government, or local and international non-governmental organisations, and that they do not become a target themselves.

Attacks on health workers are an especially heinous means of targeting civilians. This World Humanitarian Day is a reminder of the need to rally support for people affected by conflict globally and in Pakistan. I urge all local and international humanitarian organisations to work together to ensure the protection and dignity of aid workers, those displaced and those who are victims of humanitarian attacks. #NotATarget

Authored by: Joanna Reid, Head of DFID Pakistan