by Virginia Sowers, Community Manager
On World Humanitarian Day, ChildFund pauses to honor all humanitarian personnel who’ve lost their lives in the cause of duty and those who have worked in the promotion of the humanitarian cause.
Aug. 19 marks the day when 22 employees of the United Nations, including UN Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello, were killed in a bomb attack in Baghdad in 2003. Among the dead were two ChildFund employees — Jill Clark, child protection specialist, and Omar Al Orfali, a driver and interpreter.
In November 2008, we lost a staff member in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber attacked a passing military vehicle. Mohamad Shar, who was riding his bicycle in the area when the bomb exploded, suffered lethal shrapnel wounds.
Also in 2008, one of our field workers was kidnapped in the Philippines. Although she was soon released to safety, the incident was yet another reminder of the risks our employees often take in the course of their work.
Here are some sobering stats from 2009:
• 102 humanitarian workers killed
• 92 workers kidnapped
• 139 victims of security incidents such as attacks, ambushes, bombings and mob violence
The majority of humanitarian aid workers come from the countries in which they work. ChildFund, like so many organizations, relies on these professional local partners as we serve children and families in 31 countries. These workers are to be respected for their commitment and helped — not targeted.
On Aug. 19 — and every day of the year — we salute these humanitarian heroes who help us improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children.