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 18 years ago, each year we honor the brave women and men who risk everything to help people in need.
In 2021, a record 235 million people in 36 countries require humanitarian assistance. For many communities across the globe, life-threatening crises are becoming increasingly complex, as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic intensify hunger, deepen poverty, and fan the flames of conflicts over scarce resources.
The same factors driving unprecedented levels of need are also contributing to an increasingly dangerous operating environment for relief workers. Over the last year alone, at least 475 aid workers were killed, injured, or kidnapped. Despite these risks, aid workers continue to put their lives on the line to respond to crises worldwide, including climate-related disasters—such as cyclones and flash flooding—that are occurring with greater frequency and intensity.
The United States has a long and distinguished history of helping people in need. This year, six elite USAID Disaster Assistance Response Teams (DARTs) were deployed to respond to escalating conflict in Tigray, a deadly explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, and ongoing crises in Central America’s Northern Triangle Region, South Sudan, Syria, and Venezuela. Around the world, our disaster teams and our humanitarian partners are providing lifesaving food assistance, safe drinking water, shelter, medical care, critical relief supplies, and protection for vulnerable groups. Learn more about USAID’s life saving humanitarian work.