Monday, 19 August 2019 09:07


Baghdad, 19 August 2019 - Today, on the tenth anniversary of World Humanitarian Day, the United Nations honours the contribution of the nearly quarter-million female aid workers who provide humanitarian assistance to people in need. This year, the UN and partners are launching the #WomenHumanitarians global campaign to pay special tribute to women who work to save lives and alleviate human suffering.

In Iraq, World Humanitarian Day has special significance, as it was designated in memory of the 19 August 2003 attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, which killed 22 people, including the UN Special Representative of the Secretary- General for Iraq. Over the past 16 years, more than 4,500 humanitarians have been killed, injured, detained, kidnapped or otherwise prevented from carrying out their work. More than 90 per cent of all attacks worldwide were on national staff. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly formalized 19 August as World Humanitarian Day.
“As a member of the UN’s senior female leadership who has worked in a number of emergency contexts, today’s commemoration is personally important to me,” said Marta Ruedas, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq. “I have seen first hand the sacrifices humanitarians and communities have to make in order to help people affected by crises in some of the world’s most hazardous places.”
Female humanitarians comprise over 40 per cent of aid workers worldwide. Unofficially, the figures are much higher, as women are often the unsung heroes on the front lines of the world’s most difficult and dangerous settings. As affected community members, they are active in every aspect of the humanitarian response, from disaster management to the delivery of emergency supplies; from the distribution of food to the provision of medical care.
Engagement of women in humanitarian response makes aid operations more effective by increasing their reach. In many settings, women humanitarians have unique access to women and girls and can provide vital support and services to people who might otherwise be inaccessible. The involvement of women improves the humanitarian response to gender-based violence, which increases during emergencies. This can be crucial for those living in prolonged humanitarian crises, such as Iraq’s internally displaced persons (IDPs). In Iraq, IDP female-headed households are among the most vulnerable, especially those with perceived affiliations to ISIL. They defy considerable odds and immense societal pressure to keep their families safely sheltered, fed, clothed and educated.
“This World Humanitarian Day, we take the opportunity to feature the tireless work of some exemplary women in Iraq’s humanitarian community. The dedication of these women—whether UN employees, NGO workers, national staff or ordinary Iraqi women trying to help their country rebuild—is commendable,” said Ms. Ruedas.

For Further information, please contact: Hilary Stauffer, Head of Reporting, Policy and Strategy, OCHA Iraq (Baghdad)
+964 782 780 4622 | Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | Twitter: @hilarybstauffer | Skype: hilarystauffer

Additional Info

  • Agency: UN OCHA

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