#HumanitarianHeroes – World Humanitarian Day 2016
Islamic Relief is marking World Humanitarian Day by celebrating the work of our very own #HumanitarianHeroes – sharing the inspiring stories and memories of staff and volunteers that give a glimpse of the challenges they face day in, day out.
Mohammed, an economics graduate who took up charity work when he became trapped in Syria.
In Iraq, Omar Mustafa, our photographer and media logistics officer, says: “We were distributing food parcels in temperatures so hot my camera stopped working. It made us realise that people have to live in those conditions permanently.”
Khun, a Christian who is working as Islamic Relief’s programme coordinator in Myanmar, says: “For me, working in a conflict-sensitive area, the risk is always high. However, we are serving all those who need us, without discrimination, providing humanitarian assistance to Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and all people from different parts of Myanmar based only on their needs.”
In Lebanon, Yasser Zaaroura and Mohamad Maarouf, who work in the field, say: “We act within our available capacity to relieve hardship and suffering.”
In Niger, Moustapha Mamane Rabiou, who delivers water, sanitation and hygiene projects, says: “Perilous roads, torrential rain, blazing sun, dangerous reptiles, dusty winds… none of these weaken our commitment to saving lives, providing relief and contributing to the development of the communities we work in.”
At Islamic Relief we are extremely concerned that in many places where we work, international humanitarian law is being neglected and undermined. When the independence and impartiality of humanitarian workers are increasingly ignored by warring parties, it puts their lives at risk and jeopardises the delivery of aid.
In Aleppo and Manji in Syria, where Islamic Relief is one of a handful of UK agencies still able to operate, over 400,000 civilians have been denied access to aid for many months, as supply routes are bombed or made too dangerous for humanitarian convoys to travel.
Civilian targets such as schools, hospitals and food warehouses continue to be bombed, in direct contravention of humanitarian law. Our local partners on the ground have now resorted to door-to-door distribution, as even food distribution points have now become vulnerable to airstrikes.
While we celebrate the huge contribution made by humanitarian workers across the globe on World Humanitarian Day, we also call on all governments and warring parties to acknowledge and respect humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence by guaranteeing protection for humanitarian supply routes and workers; by ending the denial of aid to besieged populations as a weapon of war; and by stopping the brutal targeting of civilian infrastructure like hospitals and schools.