New York, Aug 19 (IANS/WAM) Civilians in a conflict are not a target, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at a special event on Saturday marking World Humanitarian Day, which honours aid workers and pays homage to those killed in service, while also drawing attention to the millions of people living in war zones.
“For the millions of people caught in conflict, struggling to find food, water, and safe shelter, who have been driven from their homes with little hope of return, whose schools have been bombed and who await life-saving medical care — we cannot afford to fail,” Guterres said, urging each person and country to stand in solidarity with civilians in conflict.
Standing at the UN headquarters in New York alongside UN aid workers and staff who lost colleagues in war zones, the Secretary-General lent his support to the #NotATarget”, campaign, which highlights the need to protect civilians caught in conflict, including humanitarian and medical workers.
Joining Guterres to mark World Humanitarian Day, which is officially commemorated on August 19, Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien spoke of the challenges faced by aid workers around the world.
“Last year, 288 aid workers were targeted in 158 attacks. In the past three months alone, relief workers have been shelled and shot at, kidnapped and killed in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria,” he said. “This is blatantly unacceptable.”
Earlier in the week, the UN and partners launched the #NotATarget petition urging global leaders to do more to ensure the rules of war are upheld and civilians are protected in armed conflicts.
With more than 10,500 signatures, the petitioners demanded that world leaders do more to protect people trapped in conflicts, with a particular focus on those living in urban areas, children, targets of sexual violence, forcibly displaced people, humanitarian workers and health workers.
The petition will be presented to the Secretary-General during the high-level General Assembly meet, which opens on September 12 this year.
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