August 19 marks World Humanitarian Day, a time to recognize aid workers who have sacrificed their own lives to help people affected by global crises. Since the deaths of 22 UN and relief agency staff in a Baghdad bombing 20 years ago, each year, we honor the brave women and men who risk everything to help people in need.
Twenty years ago, a bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq killed 22 aid workers and injured hundreds more. The tragedy profoundly changed the way in which humanitarians operate – from being welcomed, to being targeted. Every year on August 19, USAID honors aid workers who have lost their lives, as well as those who continue to put their lives on the line to help people in need across the globe. We also recognize the dedication of our humanitarian staff and partners.
So far in 2023, our partners and staff have stepped up at great risk to their own lives to meet growing humanitarian needs from emerging and prolonged crises, natural disasters, and violent conflict. In February, aid workers in Türkiye and Syria persevered to reach people affected by devastating earthquakes, despite many of them having lost family, friends, or homes. Meanwhile, in Sudan, where half the population now requires aid, fighting that erupted in April has already claimed the lives of 18 aid workers, including seven USAID partner staff.
Overall, acts of violence affected 444 aid workers worldwide in 2022, including 116 individuals who lost their lives while serving people affected by crises. More than 90 percent of humanitarians attacked and killed were local aid workers, sacrificing everything to help their neighbors. Attacks against aid workers are unacceptable, and we call on governments, combatants, and local authorities to ensure all humanitarians have immediate, safe, and unhindered access to populations in need.
We continue to express our tremendous gratitude to USAID partners and staff around the world for their courageous service, and we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Learn more about USAID's life saving humanitarian work.