Statement by the Humanitarian Coordinator a.i, Mr. Ramanathan Balakrishnan, on the occasion of World Humanitarian Day
19 August 2022
Yangon – On World Humanitarian Day 2022, I want to pay tribute to the dedicated aid workers of Myanmar who are risking their lives to deliver vital assistance to communities in need every day, and also remember those who have died or been injured in the course of their work.
I want to use this occasion to call for an end to the unrelenting violence that is terrifying communities and making these brave humanitarian efforts necessary. Civilians should never be a target and humanitarian workers in Myanmar must be allowed to do their jobs free from restrictions and harassment, in line with all the protections afforded to them under international law.
It takes a “humanitarian village” to help a community in crisis and the UN, International NGOs and the Red Cross family stand in solidarity with the growing network of local responders who have stepped up to help their own communities and are now the backbone of the Myanmar response. I applaud their tireless commitment to finding new ways of reducing suffering in the face of daily horrors.
Never has this work been more important with conflict raging, 1.2 million people now displaced, and poverty and inflation surging. A massive national effort is underway to reach more than 6 million crisis-affected people with assistance before the end of the year and we are half-way to this annual goal despite severe access constraints.
The humanitarian community has stayed and delivered, working with local partners to expand our operations on an unprecedented scale. With generous funding from donors, local, national and international humanitarian organizations reached more than 3 million people with assistance in the first half of 2022, but there is still a long way to go.
This effort will require improved access to people in need, relief from debilitating bureaucratic constraints and a dramatic scale-up in donor support. Expanded humanitarian access, especially to conflict-affected areas, is vital and negotiations to secure this access should never be politicized or made transactional.
The 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan is just 17 per cent funded, 8 months into the year. More resources are desperately needed for us to continue our life-saving work and avoid heart-wrenching decisions about who we cannot help.
On World Humanitarian Day, we urge the international donor community to again step-up in these difficult times and give generously in solidarity with the people of Myanmar, supporting the country’s “humanitarian village” to save lives and reduce suffering.
On 19 August 2003, a bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, killed 22 humanitarian aid workers, including the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. Five years later, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution designating 19 August as World Humanitarian Day. Each year, World Humanitarian Day focuses on a theme, bringing together partners from across the humanitarian system to advocate for the survival, well-being and dignity of people affected by crises, and for the safety and security of aid workers. For this year’s World Humanitarian Day theme is ‘It takes a village’ emphasizing the global collective effort required by the entire humanitarian community from local volunteers through to UN agencies to protect and assist millions of people every day.