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15.08.2018 - News

Humanitarian aid workers where children need them most

The 19th August is World Humanitarian Day – the occasion to value the work humanitarians carry out in areas affected by conflicts or natural disasters, sometimes putting their own well-being in danger to help others. Which contexts do Terre des hommes’ humanitarian workers face nowadays?

“We were on one side of the river, trying to save the fleeing children and their families, from the shooting coming of the so-called Islamic State from the other side of the river,” recalls Intisar Rashid, Terre des hommes (Tdh) liaison officer in Iraq. The context in which humanitarian aid workers find the energy to make a difference every day is often hard: 313 of them were victims of major attacks in 2017, according to the Aid Worker Security Report.

Humanitarian workers are not a target

The safety and security of our humanitarian workers is our priority as we seek to reach the most affected in often hard-to-reach places. Not being a target is the basis for ensuring the wellbeing of the most vulnerable children and their families. As a humanitarian worker, “you can’t imagine that a child needs help, but you can’t reach him or her because of security,” says Mohammed, Child Protection Team Leader in Iraq.

Responsible risk-taking to reach the most vulnerable

Our humanitarian workers, aware of the risks in difficult security contexts, support children to get back on their feet, as in the difficult context of Iraq, where children have been through traumatizing experiences such as the indoctrination by the so-called Islamic state or by displacement. They help Rohingya refugee children, lost in the overcrowded camps of Kutupalong in Bangladesh, to find their families and provide medical assistance to malnourished children in an environment currently marked by monsoon rains. But they are also the only actors to protect children at the frontline in remote and newly liberated zones previously occupied by the terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria. “At Terre des hommes, humanitarian aid means being willing to be present where no one else wants to get involved,” explains Steve Ringel, chief of our humanitarian operations.

More than one million children and their relatives were supported by Tdh in humanitarian crises last year. More than a third of our expenses for child relief projects around the world was allocated to humanitarian aid, double as much as in 2016, to affront the challenge of 357 million children living in conflict zones.

Watch our video of Intisar Rashid talking about the challenges faced in Iraq to help children: