October 18, 2021

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On the Occasion of World Humanitarian Day

23 min read

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

On World Humanitarian Day, we recognize and honor all of the humanitarian aid workers who have sacrificed so much – including, for too many of them, their lives — to answer the call to protect and support the world’s most vulnerable populations. We commend the bravery and compassion of humanitarian aid workers who put the welfare of others before their own. We are especially grateful for the aid workers around the world, including in Afghanistan, Haiti, and Ethiopia, responding to the ever-changing needs.

For the world’s most vulnerable people, the impacts of humanitarian crises are compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, and humanitarian workers have been essential to ensuring access to health care, and addressing the related effects of hunger, gender-based violence, mental health, and other challenges that disproportionately affect displaced and marginalized communities.

The United States has a longstanding tradition of humanitarian leadership.  In Fiscal Year 2020, the United States provided more than $10.5 billion in funding for food, shelter, healthcare, education, safe drinking water, and sanitation benefiting tens of millions of crisis-affected people worldwide, including many who have been displaced by conflict and violence, persecution, disasters, and climate events, as well as those unable to flee.

The United States continues to be the single largest humanitarian donor.  This assistance includes support to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian aid workers as they courageously care for and help protect the most vulnerable people affected by conflicts and crises from Syria to Venezuela and from South Sudan to Burma.

The commitment of the American people to help those in need goes beyond official assistance provided by the U.S. government, it is also seen in the assistance provided by private citizens, America’s civil society and non-governmental organizations, including faith-based organizations, the private sector, and the numerous Americans who have dedicated their lives to humanitarian work.

As global humanitarian needs continue to increase with historic numbers of people forced to flee their homes and amid the climate crisis and global health and economic crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States will continue to serve as a catalyst for coordinated international crisis response and to encourage other governments to contribute more to share responsibility for meeting global humanitarian needs. We also call on all parties to allow immediate, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access for United Nations humanitarian agencies and other humanitarian actors providing assistance, including across conflict lines, to ensure that they can deliver aid and services without interference, and that humanitarian assistance reaches all those in need.

The lifesaving assistance provided by the United States is made possible by the dedicated humanitarian aid workers in the field whom we honor today and those who have served before.

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