World Humanitarian Day: NHRC calls for improved working conditions for humanitarian workers

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), on Tuesday in Abuja called for improved working conditions for humanitarian workers.

Mr Tony Ojukwu, NHRC’s Executive Secretary, made this call in a statement signed by Fatimah Agwai, the commission’s Assistant Director, Corporate Affairs and External Linkages.

Ojukwu stated this in commemoration of the 2020 World Humanitarian Day (WHD), which is observed Aug. 19, every year.

“Government at all levels and other stakeholders should not compromise on the security of all humanitarian workers who, despite all odds, work round the clock to provide a lifeline and protection to people in need.

“There is need to adequately equip and support humanitarian workers in order to encourage them to diligently discharge their difficult and challenging responsibilities to humanity,” he stated.

He recalled the origin of WHD when on Aug. 19, 2003, no fewer than 22 people including the Chief Humanitarian Officer in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, were bombed at the Canal Hotel in Baghdad.

He added that for this, the UN General Assembly designated the Day to honour the victims and other humanitarian workers around the globe.

“WHD, which is observed on Aug. 19, annually in honour of all aid and health workers killed or injured in the course of their duties, remains an auspicious occasion to reminisce over the efforts and sacrifices of these humanists dead or living.

“The rising level of insecurity across Nigeria and the world at large coupled with the novel COVID-19 pandemic which effects have virtually crippled world economy with high morbidity and mortality rate have made humanitarian work a more risky and daunting task.

“In Nigeria alone, insurgency, kidnappings, ethnic clashes, armed banditry and Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV), etc. have unfortunately thrown up a number of humanitarian issues which government and development partners are grappling to address.

“We assure the champions who are still in the field that their sacrifices are not in vain but rather appreciated,” he stated.

He commended the federal government for the thoughtfulness in creating a Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

He added that other interventions to address the plights of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), refugees, returnees, migrants, if left unattended to, would snowball into further violations of human rights.

While commiserating with the families of humanitarian workers who lost their lives during the course of their work, he urged Nigerian institutions and organisations to always mainstream human rights in their daily activities.

Ojukwu added that it was in line with extant national, regional and international human rights and humanitarian laws to enhance the inherent dignity of mankind.

He noted that it was in order to improve the plight of placed countries and humanitarian workers.

“The National Human Rights Commission is working with the Ministry of Justice, Defence, Civilians in conflicts and other stakeholders to adopt a National Security Policy for the protection of civilians.

“When adopted, this will improve the climate for humanitarian workers and displaced communities in the country,” he stated. (NAN )

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