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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Commemoration of World Humanitarian Day

Press Statement
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
August 19, 2011


In situations of conflict and instability around the world, humanitarians stand up against violence, human suffering and indifference. On this World Humanitarian Day, we honor their sacrifice. Whether by defending their own neighbors, or helping to save lives in distant countries in conflict, the work of humanitarians is an essential component to promoting peace and stability around the world.

Today in the Horn of Africa humanitarians are helping to distribute food and water to those who are severely malnourished. They are providing healthcare, sanitation, protection, and other services to the millions of people in need, even as al-Shabaab has killed and threatened aid workers. There are also credible reports that al-Shabaab is preventing desperate Somalis from leaving the areas under its control. Nonetheless, hundreds of thousands of Somalis have managed to flee to the north or leave the country altogether. That, in turn, severely strains the capacity of humanitarian and aid workers who are fighting to save lives. So I once again urge al-Shabaab to heed the calls not only of the international community, but the cries of its own people, to allow the secure delivery of relief to all those who are affected.

These efforts are a reminder of the impact of our work. But more than that, they reflect America's highest ideals and aspirations. Humanitarian assistance is one of our core values, and the American people have shown time and again that we will give to help people in dire circumstances. The United States has led the world in overseas support for humanitarian protection and assistance, and we have provided asylum and refuge for millions of people.

But we know how much remains to be done. From the Horn of Africa to Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan, aid workers are saving millions of lives. It is our hope that by honoring these humanitarian workers today and every day, we will embolden their efforts and inspire future humanitarians to commit their lives to helping others.

PRN: 2011/1350

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