“This year, the World Humanitarian Day comes at a difficult time when the world is dealing with one of the deadliest pandemics in the history of our human existence, COVID-19. – ActionAid Nigeria Country Director, Ene Obi
ActionAid Nigeria, a humanitarian non-governmental organisation working to combat poverty and all forms of injustice in Nigeria has called on the Federal, State and Local Governments to uphold their responsibility on the safety and security of humanitarian workers. This call was made in Abuja as the aid agency commemorate the 2020 World Humanitarian Day alongside other development agencies globally.
While commending staff and all humanitarian workers across the world who have continued to risk their lives to provide lifesaving support and assistance to those in need and distress, the Country Director, Ene Obi said “ This year, the World Humanitarian Day comes at a difficult time when the world is dealing with one of the deadliest pandemics in the history of our human existence, COVID-19. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to rise, inducing hardship, mortalities, and economic crisis for many countries. The COVID-19 pandemic represents the single current biggest challenge to humanitarian workers and aid operations around the world.
For humanitarians and organisations working in Nigeria, this also comes at a time when there is an increased targeting of aid workers. Just last month in North East Nigeria, 5 humanitarian aid workers who were earlier abducted while on duty saving lives were murdered by Armed Opposition Groups, (AOGs). Since 2011, not less than 47 aid workers have been killed in Nigeria; today, like every other day, we remember our fallen heroes and we send our deepest condolences to their families and friends”.
As we celebrate the efforts of humanitarian workers across the country, we also take this time to stand in solidarity and appreciate all our frontline workers responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been an increase in the number of reports of security incidents against health and aid workers, their assets and facilities, including threats and acts of violence often fueled by misinformation and fear.
The outbreak of conflict is strongly correlated with poor economic conditions and if left unaddressed, the large economic shocks induced by the pandemic are likely to fuel conflict in areas where violence and insecurity were not major concerns before and generate even greater risk to aid workers and need for aid.
Humanitarian workers should not go about their duties in fear and anxiety. Humanitarian workers are not part of the war, they take no sides but stand with the poor and vulnerable communities that they serve. As we celebrate humanitarian workers all around the world but most especially those working in communities around Nigeria; ActionAid Nigeria strongly condemns all forms of violence against humanitarian aid workers. We urge all actors to respect and adhere to international laws and protocol that guides humanitarian operations and not seek to bring humanitarians into the conflicts. We also call on government to prioritize the safety of frontline workers leading the Covid-19 response and provide the necessary tools and welfare support required to enable them to perform their duties optimally.