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World Humanitarian Day: Protecting Humanitarian Workers

Statement from President and CEO of Project HOPE, Rabih Torbay, on World Humanitarian Day

Washington, DC (18 August 2023) –This World Humanitarian Day, Project HOPE stands united with the global humanitarian community to emphasize the critical importance of protecting humanitarians, including health workers, who dedicate their lives to supporting and safeguarding others in times of crisis. 

Statistics paint a stark picture of the risks faced by humanitarian workers on the front lines of global emergencies, particularly for local and country staff. Last year, 144 humanitarians lost their lives and 444 were subjected to violent attacks. Tragically, over 60 humanitarians have been killed just this year. Attacks are happening around the world in Sudan and Ukraine – areas where Project HOPE works. When attacks happen, organizations are forced to halt operations and often suspend operations indefinitely, which strands communities that rely on humanitarian assistance to survive.   

These brave individuals put their lives on the line every day to provide vital assistance and bring hope to those who need it most. Their unwavering dedication and selflessness deserve our utmost respect and protection. 

Project HOPE firmly believes that the safety and security of humanitarian workers are paramount to effectively delivering assistance to communities in crisis. We call on governments, multilateral organizations, and individuals to recognize and address risks faced by humanitarians and to provide them with the protection and support they require to do their jobs safely. Perpetrators responsible for attacks on humanitarian workers must be held accountable through tangible actions such as arrests or sanctions. Organizations need flexible funding to prepare local staff and partners with the training, security, and resources to work in dangerous situations. Their safety is not just a matter of policy; it is a collective responsibility that impacts the lives of countless individuals worldwide. 

As leaders in the global health and humanitarian sector, it is our responsibility to lead the charge to better conditions for humanitarian workers. People’s physical safety is important, but we cannot neglect their psychological safety as well. There is an enormous toll on one’s mental health when working with communities in war, weather disasters, and health crises. All humanitarian workers deserve access to counseling and mental health resources to help them cope with stress and trauma in healthy ways.  

As we mark World Humanitarian Day, let us remember the sacrifices and contributions of humanitarian workers who continue to demonstrate unwavering courage in the face of adversity. Let us pledge to stand with them, protect them, and ensure that their noble work can continue to shine as a beacon of hope for those who need it most. 

#NoMatterWhat, we remain committed to protecting humanitarians around the globe. Together, we can build a world where everyone is safeguarded, and their efforts to save and protect lives are celebrated and cherished.  

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact media@ProjectHOPE.org.


About Project HOPE
Founded in 1958, Project HOPE is a leading global health and humanitarian organization operating in more than 25 countries around the world. We work side-by-side with local health systems to save lives and improve health. Our mission is at the epicenter of today’s greatest health challenges, including infectious and chronic diseases, disasters and health crises, maternal, neonatal and child health and the policies that impact how health care is delivered. For more information on Project HOPE and its work around the world, visit www.ProjectHOPE.org and follow us on Twitter @ProjectHOPEorg.

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