21st August, 2013

REMEMBERING THE LOST: Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, speaks at a memorial service held by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), to honour the 22 UN colleagues who died in the 19th August 2003 attack on the Canal Hotel UN headquarters in Baghdad. PICTURE: UN Photo

It's only August but already this year more aid workers have been killed in the line of duty than for the whole of 2012.

Seventy-six humanitarian workers have died so far this year compared to 65 last year.

World Vision, who have seen two staff members killed in Sudan this year, used the marking of World Humanitarian Day on Monday to call for humanitarian workers to be given safe access in "violent hotspots" around the world.

Anthea Spinks, head of humanitarian and emergency affairs at World Vision Australia, said aid workers often carried out their jobs in dangerous conditions but needed to have guaranteed safe access to take food, water, shelter and medical assistance to those who need it.

She said humanitarian workers do what they do because "they have a strong belief that the world should be better than it is" and called on all parties in conflicts - like the ongoing civil war in Syria - to provide "safe and unimpeded access to humanitarian organisations".

"Aid agency logos used to be enough to protect the people going into dangerous areas, but sadly that's no longer the case and every year we hear heart-breaking stories of the lives that have been lost," she says.

World Humanitarian Day is held annually on August 19th, the anniversary of the 2003 terrorist bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, which killed 22 UN staff.

~ www.worldvision.com.au

~ www.worldhumanitarianday.org

- DAVID ADAMS