Protect aid workers | Action Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger calls for the protection of aid workers

In the past 15 years, more than 3,000 aid workers have been killed, kidnapped or hurt while helping vulnerable populations who are enduring wars, natural disasters or armed conflicts. This is unacceptable.

By Jean-Michel Grand

Sep 18 2015

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that members of the security forces committed the extrajudicial executions of the ACF [Action Against Hunger] staff”. This is the conclusion reached by a UN war crimes report into serious war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by both sides to the conflict in Sri Lanka during the period of its civil war. 

The report reached the same conclusions as Action Against Hunger, which published its findings in a report titled ‘The truth about the assassination of 17 aid workers in Sri Lanka’ last year. It places the blame for the massacre of the 17 Action Against Hunger aid workers on the security forces and highlights the major cover up orchestrated by the authorities. It also found that security forces intimidated the victims' relatives whenever international attention was paid to the case.

“The bodies were lined up and most were face down, executed with bullet wounds to the head”. Our dedicated colleagues lost their lives on that day in Muttur, despite the fact that they were wearing white ACF T-shirts clearly identifying them as humanitarian aid workers. Their humanitarian status did not protect them.     

Dozens of aid workers are killed every year with perpetrators walking away in total impunity

A week ago, our colleague Rombek Paul Mori was killed in a daytime armed robbery at our office compound in South Sudan’s capital, Juba. He worked with Action Against Hunger during two cholera campaigns and was a dedicated humanitarian professional. 

It takes a lot of courage and commitment to deliver aid to people in urgent need in conflict zones. Aid workers are risking their lives every day. They deserve respect and protection.

The UN report recommends the establishment of a hybrid special court to deliver justice to the victims due to the magnitude of the violations and the seriousness of the facts. This is a landmark decision in the fight against impunity for crimes against humanitarian workers.

But more needs to be done. Action Against Hunger is calling for the creation of a United Nations Special Rapporteur for the protection of aid workers. Concrete measures must be taken to prevent the deaths of hundreds of dedicated men and women who believe in humanity.    

The Human Rights Council’s report is available here

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