- What We Do
- Agriculture and Food Security
- Democracy, Human Rights and Governance
- Economic Growth and Trade
- Ending Extreme Poverty
- Environment and Global Climate Change
- Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment
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- Water and Sanitation
- Working in Crises and Conflict
- U.S. Global Development Lab
Disasters are Growing in Complexity and Magnitude
*Source: Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters
*Source: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre
*Source: Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2014
Today marks World Humanitarian Day, a day designated by the United Nations General Assembly to remember the 22 U.N. and relief agency staff who lost their lives in a bombing in Baghdad 11 years ago. Since its designation in 2008, August 19 has become an occasion to honor fallen relief workers around the world who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of others.
The U.N. this year is putting the spotlight on our Humanitarian Heroes—workers who risk their lives every day to make a difference in the lives of people affected by disasters worldwide. This year also marks a key anniversary for USAID: 50 years of providing humanitarian assistance through our Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance. Over the last half century, USAID has responded to more than 2,500 disasters in more than 80 percent of the globe, saving countless lives in the process.
Saving lives is becoming harder in a world where crises are increasing in complexity and magnitude. Last year was the most violent year for aid workers in the past decade: 155 relief staff killed, 171 injured, and 134 kidnapped. Adding to the growing list of concerns, at least 33 million people were internally displaced in 2013 due to conflict and violence—the highest figure ever recorded.
Nonetheless, USAID teams and partners are moving forward and finding ways around these significant obstacles to save lives. Over the past few weeks, USAID has been responding to growing humanitarian needs in Iraq following the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team to West Africa to oversee critical areas of the U.S. Government’s Ebola response in coordination with disease-control experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In addition, USAID continues to work with dedicated partners in Syria—heroes operating on the frontlines—to keep food, safe drinking water, medical care, and critical relief supplies flowing to all 14 governorates. In South Sudan, our teams are working to ramp up food distributions and air operations to ensure that life-saving aid gets to hard-to-reach places. In the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, USAID is working alongside our partners to help vulnerable communities build resilience to recurrent crises.
The growing insecurity, greater personal risk to staff, and mounting challenges to reach the most vulnerable people are stretching the international community’s resources to the limits. This year’s U.N. focus on Humanitarian Heroes celebrates individuals who are dedicated to making a difference while protecting and supporting those most in need around the world. Show your support for World Humanitarian Day by visiting www.worldhumanitarianday.org.
Last updated: August 19, 2014