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European Commission - Press release

European Commission welcomes UN resolution on security of humanitarian aid workers

Brussels, 15 December 2011 - The European Commission welcomes and strongly supports the annual resolution of the United Nation's "Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of the United Nations personnel". The resolution has been adopted today by consensus at the UN General Assembly, as part of the "Humanitarian Week". The European Union has actively contributed to the text of the resolution and sees the security of aid workers as one of the biggest challenges to the effective delivery of humanitarian aid.

Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Co-operation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, said: "This year's UN resolution on the safety and security of humanitarian workers is a strong reminder humanitarian work has unfortunately become one of the most dangerous jobs in today's world.

"Relief staff are increasingly exposed to risk while maintaining a lifeline to the victims of conflicts and disasters around the world. It is unacceptable that they are subject to harassment, abduction or even plain killing while serving humanity.

"We call on all parties to ensure that humanitarian workers are accepted and respected and that they feel safe and secure enough to perform their tasks on which so many lives depend."

This year's resolution calls upon all parties involved in armed conflict to refrain from abducting, hostage-taking and kidnapping humanitarian personnel and maintains all references to International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The incidence of aid worker kidnappings continues to rise, with inevitably negative effects on how much aid humanitarian organisations can deliver to those in need. The release of abducted humanitarian workers is always welcome and the adoption of today's resolution will hopefully contribute to improving the situation.

According to the United Nations 24 of its aid workers lost their lives in service in 2010, compared with 45 in the previous year. The number of UN personnel injured in dangerous incidents rose from 190 in 2009 to 232 last year. About one per cent (1,438 persons) of the UN's staff was affected by insecurity in 2010. In the first six months of this year 9 UN aid workers were killed and 46 were injured. The UN faces significant security challenges especially in Afghanistan, the Darfur region of Sudan and Somalia1.

Background

As one of the world's main donors of humanitarian assistance the European Commission is committed to ensuring that its staff and partners work in the safest possible environment to be able to fulfil their tasks. The Commission continually takes steps to advocate for the security of relief workers and to promote adherence to humanitarian law and its principles. The European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid shows strong commitment to the safety and security of humanitarian personnel. The European Commission's “Don’t shoot, I' m a humanitarian worker!” campaign last year raised public awareness of the dangers and difficulties relief workers face.

For more information:

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/georgieva/index_en.htm

The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm

Contacts :

David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)

Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)

1 :

UN Report on "Safety and security of the United Nations and associated personnel" from 7th September 2011


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