Supporting local aid workers this World Humanitarian Day


A local humanitarian aid worker from the Anglican Diocese of Matana, a Tearfund local partner, records information about the villagers’ health and nutritional status as part of a food security and nutrition project in Songa, Burundi in February 2018


Asha Kurien, Tearfund’s Humanitarian Policy Officer, shares why supporting local humanitarian workers is key this World Humanitarian Day.

This Sunday – 19 August – we remember the lives and contribution of individuals who risk their lives to provide humanitarian aid. World Humanitarian Day was established by the UN after the attack on their headquarters on 19 August 2003 in Baghdad, Iraq. 22 humanitarian aid workers died that day.

And sadly, year after year, attacks on aid workers and civilians in humanitarian contexts have continued to escalate. In 2017, at least 313 aid workers were victims of violent acts. Of these, 154 worked for local or national organisations. Tearfund is committed to enabling a more locally led humanitarian response worldwide and is a signatory to the Charter for Change. The Charter for Change is a series of eight commitments to enable local humanitarian actors to play an increased and more prominent role in humanitarian response. To date, 34 International NGOs have signed up to and over 200 local and national organisations have endorsed these commitments, seeking to improve the capacity of local humanitarian workers to operate safely and securely in their contexts.

When a humanitarian crises develops, local authorities and local civil society are often the first to respond. By respecting and strengthening the role of local actors, the humanitarian response better addresses the needs of those affected by the crises and is more sustainable.

So Tearfund – together with the signatories to the Charter for Change – is taking the opportunity this World Humanitarian Day to call for stronger action to ensure aid workers can work safely and securely through:

  1. Calling upon all parties to conflicts to meet their obligations under international humanitarian law and ensure safe access to people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, for all humanitarian and civil society personnel;
  2. Appealing for continuous efforts to strengthen, support and enforce all measures in relation to the protection of humanitarian and civil society actors;    
  3. Urging host governments to do more to guarantee that individuals or groups who attack or intimidate humanitarian actors are held to account for their actions;
  4. Appealing to donor governments to commit more resources to build the capacities of local and national actors who operate in high-risk and hostile environments.

Read the full letter here.

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