Calls for zero targeting of civilians in conflict situations characterize World Humanitarian Day commemorations in NairobiTirus Wainaina
Every year, thousands of aid workers, children, civilians and journalists fall victim to violence perpetrated in conflict situations. This year’s World Humanitarian Day commemorations in Nairobi to campaign against this, involved joint leadership by UNIC Nairobi and UNOCHA. Considering that in East Africa alone within the last year, 55 aid workers have been killed and a lot more injured, the message from Nairobi to the world was clear; all acts of violence directed towards innocent people especially those caught up in conflict situations must end.
The event was preceded by a message from the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who appealed for the protection of all civilians and aid workers engulfed in conflicts that are not in their own making. He pointed out that the indiscriminate targeting of civilians has caused millions of civilians to flee their homes and that the number of displaced people across the world is unprecedented.
His message guided the public appeals by leaders who attended the event in Nairobi. Staff members from the UN Secretariat, UN agencies in Kenya as well as UN partners from various Non Governmental Organizations that operate in Kenya are among those who attended the event. Key speakers who included the Kenya Red Cross Society’s Secretary General appealed for accountability from governments and all people in positions of authority to ensure full application of international law to avoid the unnecessary dying of civilians and health workers.
The influx of refugees in Uganda which reached a one million mark this week was highlighted as a situation which could have been avoided if civilians were not attacked and forced to flee for safety. Kenya itself hosts more than 400,000 refugees and asylum seekers mainly from neighboring countries including Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.
World Humanitarian Day is commemorated every year on 19th August as adopted by a United Nations resolution. This year’s campaign follows the UN Secretary-General’s report on protection of civilians, which was launched in 2016. Laying out his path to protection, the Secretary-General calls for enhanced respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, and protection of civilians, including humanitarian and medical workers as well as civilian infrastructure.
See photos of the Day here