Jonathan criticises violence against humanitarian workers


President Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday expressed concern at the increasing rate of violence against persons working as humanitarian personnel across the world.

The President stated his concern at a ceremony organised in the Presidential Villa, Abuja to mark the 2014 World Humanitarian Day.

Jonathan, who was represented by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, expressed dissatisfaction that in spite their passion to save lives, humanitarian workers had become targets of hostilities.

“Humanitarian workers have no other agenda than saving lives and delivering the basic necessities of life which include food, water, shelter, medical care and protection for the most vulnerable.

“Violent attacks on humanitarian personnel are increasingly becoming more frequent and brutal.

“In the last decade, the number of attacks on them has tripled, resulting in more than 100 deaths annually,” he said.

The President saluted the courage of those medical personnel, who, driven by passion and a strong sense of humanity, went beyond the call of duty and tried to save the life of Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian carrier of the dreaded Ebola Virus and as a result, became infected.

“I want to use this occasion to salute the courage of these medical personnel and condole with the families of those that lost their lives.”

According to him, government is doing everything possible to ensure that those still alive get the best medical attention while praying to God to save their lives.

Jonathan, therefore, enjoined Nigerians to be advocates for humanity as the country remembered millions of people affected by wars, natural disasters, insurgency, sickness, and famine.

“Those in need desperately require our help, but our ability to reach out to them is sadly becoming increasingly challenging and at risk,” Jonathan added.

The President said that Nigeria had been credited as the first country to have begun the commemoration of the world humanitarian day, especially in the West African sub-region.

“This feat was achieved in 2013, when the country marked the World Humanitarian Day.”

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He applauded the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) and other stakeholders for their collaborative effort at institutionalising the commemoration of the day in Nigeria.

“I want to assure you that government will continue to support policies and programmes that promote humanitarian activities in the country and we are very proud of your achievements by excelling to one of the best organised organisations in Africa.

“As you are aware, the theme of this year’s event is “More People than Ever before Need Our Help. Therefore, we are all enjoined to become messengers of humanity.

“I wish to state further that honouring humanitarian workers today provides the government the unique opportunity to recognise, encourage and inspire others in delivering selfless service to humanity and bring succour to the families of those who may have lost their lives or suffered severe injuries due to their exposure to life threatening situations,” the President stated.

Minister of Special Duties, Alhaji Kabiru Turaki, lamented the increasing number of persons affected by various natural disasters, wars and insurgency across the world.

He, therefore, urged Nigerians to continue to show concern and support the humanitarian cause to make the world a better place.

In his remark, the Director-General of NEMA, Alhaji Sani Sidi, stated that the World humanitarian Day was dedicated to the commemoration of persons who had lost their lives in active humanitarian duty in Nigeria and across the World.

He stressed that commemorating the day had become imperative in view of the upsurge of growing threats, attacks, kidnapping, maiming, injury and loss of lives of humanitarian aid workers during both local and international operations.

“Under the grim scenarios of conflicts and natural disasters, humanitarians have committed their lives, worked with their hearts, sweat and blood to save lives and bring succour to the distressed in times when the major concern of everyone is self-preservation.
Federal Commissioner for Refugees, Hajiya Hadiza Kangiwa, presented the Humanitarian Heroes Register to the President at the event.

She explained that the register was intended to be an official record where humanitarian workers both in government and non-governmental sectors were listed for demonstrating exceptional qualities, perseverance and courage beyond the call of duty.

“We are tempted to ask the questions: What are those qualities? And who are humanitarians?

“The qualities of compassion and selflessness spring to mind. People, who help the whole of humankind especially those less fortunate than themselves, with no thought of profit or personal gain.”