USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa On World Humanitarian Day 2020

Press Release Shim

Speeches Shim

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

On August 19, World Humanitarian Day, we recognize the aid workers who put their lives on the line to help people affected by crises around the world. Since the deaths of 22 humanitarians in a Baghdad bombing 17 years ago, every year on this date, we pause to honor the brave women and men who risk everything to help those in need.

Never has the generosity, courage, and sacrifice of aid workers been more evident-or more needed-than it is today. In Beirut, Lebanon, humanitarian workers haven't stopped saving lives, despite the recent explosions injuring coworkers and destroying their offices. Even as humanitarians reach more people in more disaster and conflict zones around the world, attacks on humanitarians have increased. In 2019, at least 483 aid workers were killed, injured, or kidnapped, and the violence has continued in 2020. In the last month alone, humanitarians were killed in several countries, including Niger, northeast Nigeria, Cameroon, and South Sudan. Among the fallen were staff working with USAID partners. Now the COVID-19 pandemic is creating additional risks for aid workers.

Despite these challenges, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and our partners are not deterred. The United States has a long history of helping others in need and we remain committed to doing so. Last year, USAID responded to 66 disasters in 57 countries, working with our humanitarian partners to provide lifesaving food, water, shelter, medical care, and other critical assistance to tens of millions of people, from communities affected by severe flooding across East Africa, to Venezuelans across Latin America fleeing the man-made crisis in their country.

This year will be even more challenging. At the start of this year, a record 168 million people in 55 countries required humanitarian aid. On top of this, the world is now fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. By July, due to the impact of COVID-19, the number of people in need had more than doubled, though estimates are still evolving.

The United States is leading the global response efforts to the COVID-19 crisis. As part of the All-of-America response, the United States has redoubled our humanitarian efforts, providing $558 million in International Disaster Assistance in 50 countries. Our COVID-19 response builds on our decades of leadership providing health and humanitarian assistance.

As the world's largest humanitarian donor, the United States is proud to support aid workers who are reaching the most vulnerable people, to save lives and alleviate suffering. On World Humanitarian Day, we recognize the tremendous service of aid workers everywhere.