By Simon D.
Bamenda, Northwest Region, Cameroon -Wednesday, August 19, 2020 – 6 PM Local Time (Cameroon News Agency) Wednesday, August 19, 2020, is commemorated by the United Nations as World Humanitarian Day. During this year’s celebration under the theme, celebrating “Real Life Heroes”, the Under-Secretary-General for United Nations Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock tweeted:
“The average number of aid workers attacked each year has nearly doubled in the last decade. We must invest in the safety and protection of our aid workers”
It against this backdrop that OCHA and partners organized a ceremony in the premises of the U.N Common office at Up-station Bamenda, northwest region to celebrate and encourage humanitarian workers that have put their lives on the line to serve their communities in the ongoing armed conflict and Covid-19 pandemic. It was also an occasion for partner organizations such as UNHCR, Plan International, World Food Program and other local NGOs to discuss their line of humanitarian action.
Frontline humanitarian workers such as drivers and aid distributors were recognized and praised for the bravery as others narrated their scary experiences in the field while a minute of silence was observed for some aid workers recently slain in their line of duty in the Northwest and Southwest Regions.
In an interview with CNA, James Nunan, Humanitarian Affairs Officer for OCHA revealed that there has recently been an increase in attacks on aid workers. He cited the killing of three aid workers. Two in the Northwest and one in the Southwest. He Lamented that the conflict in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon is the least talked-about and the least funded in humanitarian works, which he couldn’t tell why.
He went further to explain that the greatest wish of the people is to see an end to the crisis.
OCHA and partners being just humanitarian groups can only plead for the warring parties to stop the war and negotiate peace. For as long as the conflict persists, they will continue with the humanitarian works. But he regretted that should attacks on humanitarian workers continue, humanitarian outreach will be greatly reduced perhaps to a point where they can no longer cope.
With the continuous increase in attacks on civilians, there are fears that at one point humanitarian services for most parts of the affected territories may come to a standstill worsening conditions further for civilians who have suffered the most.
World Humanitarian Day is an international day dedicated to recognising humanitarian personnel and those who have lost their lives working for humanitarian causes. It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly as part of a Swedish-sponsored General Assembly Resolution A/63/L.49 on the Strengthening of the Coordination of Emergency Assistance of the United Nations and set as 19 August.
It marks the day in which the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello and 21 of his colleagues were killed in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad.