ECOWAS says there has been an increase in the number humanitarian workers killed since 2001.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has urged the Federal Government to be more proactive in conflict prevention in order to save lives.
The commission’s Senior External Relations Officer, Alice Ballah-Conteh, made the call in Abuja on Tuesday at the commemoration of the 2012 World Humanitarian Day, organised by the National Commission for Refugees. The theme of the Tuesday event was “I Was Here.”
“The primary issue is to prevent conflict so that we don’t have to be faced with a situation where people have to die or suffer severely,” Ms. Ballah-Conteh said.
The UNHCR official said humanitarian workers would always be there to provide support and assistance. She recalled the August 26, 2011 attack on the United Nations house that killed 26 people, saying that the attack caused sober moments for the UN.
In his presentation, Alozie Godfrey, the Programme Officer, ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Emergency Response Team (EERT), said that the number of humanitarian workers killed, injured and kidnapped during insecurity situations had increased dramatically since 2001.
He said majority of the victims were aide workers, adding that aide workers could be targets or be part of the collateral casualties in a conflict.
“They can be victims of criminal attacks, robbery or kidnapping for ransom. Humanitarian workers undergo a lot of problems during crises but we must make people know the essence of what humanitarian workers do and respect them for who they are,” he said.
Mr. Godfrey described the humanitarian worker as anybody around the crisis situation, and who is ready to help.