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World Humanitarian Day

World Humanitarian Day

Published on August 19, 2010
Statement by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

Paris, August 19, 2010

“World Humanitarian Day” has particular significance today at a time when the international community is mobilizing its efforts in support of Pakistan who has been so tragically hit by massive floods.

This day pays tribute to the commitment of humanitarian workers and the memory of Sergio Vieira De Mello.

My friend Sergio Vieira De Mello devoted his life to promoting peace and human rights. On 19 August 2003, Sergio and 21 of his colleagues fell victim to an attack in Baghdad while contributing to Iraq’s recovery in the framework of United Nations action. Today I want to pay tribute once again to this extraordinary man, whose commitment remains an example to us all.

This day belongs to all humanitarian personnel working in dangerous regions, often risking their lives, in order to relieve the suffering of vulnerable people. I want to express my profound respect for and appreciation of their courage and devotion.

Our thoughts go in particular to the humanitarian workers murdered in Afghanistan two weeks ago and to our compatriot, Michel Germaneau, who was murdered in the Sahel last month. We also remember the 17 members of Action Against Hunger who were executed in 2006 in Muttur, Sri Lanka; the killers have still not been found.

The security of humanitarian personnel is a priority for France. The attacks against them negate the solidarity which forms the basis of humanitarian action. They are a scourge for the international community and all States must take appropriate measures to deal with them. That is why France is determined to work at strengthening the security of humanitarian personnel, notably at the next United Nations General Assembly.

France will continue supporting the humanitarian reform initiated by the United Nations with a view to improving the coordination and effectiveness of relief operations, particularly during major disasters such as in Haiti and Pakistan./.

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