August 18th, 2010
09:45 AM ET

U.N. sees increase in humanitarian workers targeted

Calling for the protection of humanitarian workers in Afghanistan, the United Nations says there have been 47 incidents of direct intimidation of U.N. staff and aid workers in the first six months of this year.

In addition, 19 U.N. staff members and aid workers have been attacked, 63 U.N. staff members and aid workers have been abducted and seven U.N. staff members and aid workers have been killed.

The statement, issued on the eve of World Humanitarian Day, says humanitarian workers in Afghanistan are providing emergency food, shelter and medical assistance "which can mean the difference between life and death for thousands of people every day."

This year has seen an increase in the number of targeted attacks on humanitarian personnel across the world, the U.N. says. Robert Watkins, deputy special representative of the Secretary-General and U.N. humanitarian coordinator said the United Nations is calling on all parties to the Afghan conflict to respect and allow humanitarian aid workers to carry out their work.

"Aid workers operate on the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence," he says. "Humanitarian workers must be protected - not targeted. They must have the space to operate without fear in Afghanistan in order to assist the most vulnerable people in this country."

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