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Message of Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA Executive Director on the occasion of World Humanitarian Day

19 August 2010

Today, on World Humanitarian Day, UNFPA pays tribute to humanitarian aid workers who risk their lives to save the lives of others. In the past 10 years, aid workers have come under increasing fire as they strive to provide assistance and support to individuals and communities affected by crisis.

Since January, UNFPA has responded to multiple emergencies including the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, conflict in Kyrgyzstan and floods in West Africa and Pakistan.  Since women continue to get pregnant and give birth during these crises, we work to provide reproductive health services because no woman should die giving life. Together with partners, UNFPA works to ensure safe motherhood, prevent HIV infection and prevent and respond to gender-based violence.   

Protecting the right to sexual and reproductive health is fundamental to human security and to humanitarian and development assistance. Just as good humanitarian work paves the way for recovery and stability, good development work builds strong communities, infrastructure and institutions to build resilience and ease the impact of crisis when it occurs.

Today, my colleagues and I call for increased protection and respect for humanitarian aid workers. We also urge closer cooperation between the humanitarian and development communities to promote human security and dignity in all phases of crisis, response, transition and recovery. 

Today, I salute all colleagues who have worked hard to support individuals and communities in emergencies and I pay tribute to all colleagues who have perished in the line of duty to ensure humanitarian relief.

Humanitarian Day-related three-minute video clip, highlighting the importance of addressing women's concerns during humanitarian responses