2020 World Humanitarian Aid Day

France commemorates World Humanitarian Aid Day and pays tribute to the humanitarian workers who - in a context made even more difficult by the Covid-19 pandemic - provide assistance, sometimes at the risk of their own lives, to the most vulnerable populations.

A tribute to aid workers on the front lines

Sixteen years ago, on August 19 th, 2003, an attack devastated the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, killing 22 people, including the United Nations representative in Iraq, Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello. In 2008, the General Assembly passed resolution A / RES / 63 139 establishing a " World day of Humanitarian Aid" which is commemorated on each anniversary of this attack.

Through this date, the UN is highlighting - not the millions of lives saved - but the obstacles that stand in front of humanitarian personnel deployed in complex and dangerous fields.

Facing increasingly frequent physical and deadly attacks, humanitarian workers are being hit hard. This year, they are even more exposed in the context of the COVID19 pandemic.

We are paying tribute to those #RealLifeHeroes who work tirelessly to provide assistance to the most vulnerable.

More informations on the 2020 campaign

Unprecedented needs

Before the COVID19 pandemic, the UN estimated that nearly 168 million people would be in need of humanitarian and protection assistance. This represents about 1 in 45 people in the world. This is the highest figure on record since the end of World War II.

This figure should increase further under the multiplier effect of climate change (floods, invasion of locusts, destruction of crops, etc.), pandemic risks and the multiplication of conflicts and crises that are increasingly violent and trying for civilian populations (Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Sahel, Venezuela, Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia)

Globally, at the start of 2019, 821 million people were undernourished, including 113 million suffering from acute hunger. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs ( OCHA) estimated the financial needs for 2020 to be around $ 28.7 billion to respond to humanitarian crises.

The health crisis has led the UN to launch an emergency appeal for a Global Humanitarian Response Plan to COVID19. The needs are estimated at 6.82 billion dollars between April and December 2020. France has provided a contribution

It sets three objectives: containing the spread of the pandemic; reducing the deterioration of human capital and rights, social cohesion and means of subsistence; protecting refugees, displaced people, migrants and host communities

More informations on OCHA on their website

Worst year for humanitarian workers

According to the UN, 2019 has been the most violent for aid workers. A total of 483 humanitarians have been attacked, 125 killed, 234 injured and 124 kidnapped in 277 separate incidents. It represents an 18 % increase in the number of victims compared to 2018.

The 2010-2019 decade saw an increase of 117 % in attacks compared to the 2000-2009 period. This worrying trend continues throughout 2020.

  • Bombing of hospitals in Syria (this country is considered as the most violent for aid workers with 47 attacks and 36 fatalities)
  • 27 attacks against health workers taking part to the eradication of Ebola in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo)
  • A terrorist attack in a maternity ward in Kabul (Afghanistan) tant killed 16 mom, including 5 about to give birth, a midwife, two kids aged 7 and 8, and six others.
  • The assassination of six young french humanitarian workers and their guide in Niger.

A maternity ward in Kabul targeted by a terrorist attack last May (Frédéric Bonnot/MSF)

The UN condemns these attacks and calls for their perpetrators to be held accountable. Aid workers cannot be targeted. These growing violations of International Humanitarian Law and Geneva Conventions must not go unpunished

France, committed to humanitarian aid and respect for international humanitarian law

Humanitarian action is a pillar of France’s foreign policy, which has undertaken to triple its aid volume to reach 500 millions euros per year by 2022. It would thus become the third European donor and one of the main global donors.

France has also pledged to mobilize more than 1.2 billion euros to fight against the spread of COVID19-in particular in Africa-, within the framework of Initiative Santé en commun carried by the French Development Agency (AFD).


Masks distribution in a street of Kinshasa. Pic by SAMIR TOUNSI/AFP)

To know more on Initiative Santé en commun

French humanitarian action is part of four dynamics:

1-Implementation of the Global Compact for Refugees. The first edition of this forum was held in December 2019 in Geneva

2-Emergency financial and material support during disasters such as for the reconstruction of Beirut or assistance to the most vulnerable populations in times of Covid19.

3-Support for humanitarian action at the UN Security Council within the framework of the resolutions voted. France and Tunisia thus passed in July 2020 a historic resolution consecrating Secretary General Antonio Guterres’s call for a global ceasefire and stressing the need for better international solidarity and cooperation.
France is also pursuing advocacy work in favor of humanitarian access, a crucial issue for the maintenance of humanitarian operations.

4-Defense of International Humanitarian Law and protection of humanitarian personnel in all international bodies.

Read the french humanitarian strategy for 2018-2022

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Last updated on: 19 August 2020