UN commemorates its 22 staff members that were killed in Iraq in 2003

NEW YORK (CIHAN)- The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) held a ceremony to commemorate the Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad.

The Day is observed annually on 19 August, the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad that killed 22 people, including UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

UNAMI Chief of Staff Mark Rutgers commemorated the many humanitarian workers who lost their lives in service in other parts of the world.

“In commemorating the memory and the lives of the UN 22 staff members, we also recollect other humanitarian actors, colleagues and friends that perished in the course of their duties: in Damascus, Gaza, Kabul, Mogadishu, Algiers and the list goes on, filling page after page.”

Rutgers underscored the lack of protection facing aid workers while pursuing their duties. “Sadly, those beneath the UN flag – and more broadly the humanitarian community – are no longer afforded the respect and the protection from belligerent parties in the fulfillment of their calling: meeting the humanitarian imperative.”

The Mission expressed its solidarity with the Iraqi people, and renewed its commitment to support and protect the most vulnerable, especially in the current turmoil.

In New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marked World Humanitarian Day by paying tribute to aid workers across the globe who lost their lives. In the morning, he began with honouring the 22 UN staff members killed in Baghdad.

Later, at a humanitarian event at headquarters, Ban warned that despite the efforts of the international community, the death toll of aid workers is on the rise.

“Despite our best efforts, attacks on humanitarian workers are increasing. Last year, more than 150 aid workers were killed – the highest number since we began keeping records. More humanitarian workers were kidnapped or seriously injured than ever before.”

This year’s observance comes at a time when the number of aid workers killed, kidnapped and seriously wounded has reached the highest number ever recorded, according to new figures published today by the United Kingdom-based organization known as Humanitarian Outcomes.

The research shows that in 2013, 155 aid workers were killed, 171 were seriously wounded and 134 were kidnapped. Overall this represents a 66 per cent increase in the number of victims from the previous year. With 81 aid workers killed in 2013, Afghanistan is still the country with the highest number of attacks.

Preliminary figures show that as of 15 August 2014, 79 aid workers have been killed this year alone. The months of July and August saw a rise in the level of attacks and incidents involving aid workers including in Gaza and South Sudan.