Statement by the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell and Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič on World Humanitarian Day 2020

© European Union, 2021, Source: EC - Audiovisual Service, Janez Lenarčič© European Union, 2021, Source: EC - Audiovisual Service, Janez Lenarčič

“Ahead of World Humanitarian Day, we pay tribute to and champion all humanitarian workers saving lives and helping those less fortunate in times of crisis worldwide.

Right now, during the coronavirus pandemic, humanitarians are working against all odds to deliver aid in even more difficult conditions.

While we salute their courage and passion, regrettably in 2019, 125 humanitarian workers were killed, with 124 kidnapped. Saving lives should never cost lives.

This is why it is essential that International Humanitarian Law is respected to protect humanitarian aid workers and civilians. We also call upon all parties to conflicts worldwide to abstain from targeting civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals.

Alarmingly, humanitarian needs today are on the rise, accelerated all the more by the coronavirus pandemic. With this in mind, the European Union stands ready to further strengthen and increase investment in humanitarian aid. The European Commission will support EU humanitarian funding with almost €10 billion over the next 7 years.

We are proud of Europe’s humanitarian commitment. Our aid is helping people in more than 80 countries, from Lebanon to the Sahel, Afghanistan to Venezuela.  

We will continue to support those most in need for as long as it takes.”


World Humanitarian Day commemorates the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, when 22 humanitarian workers lost their lives.

The coronavirus pandemic has increased the number of those in need of humanitarian assistance. Additionally, civilians in conflict zones are routinely killed or wounded in targeted or indiscriminate attacks. At the start of 2019, some 70.8 million people were forcibly displaced by conflict, violence and human rights violations. Climate change further exacerbates people’s vulnerability to humanitarian crises. The eight most severe food crises are all related to both conflict and climate shocks.

In 2019, the EU humanitarian aid mobilised almost €2 billion for humanitarian aid operations in over 80 countries around the world. A significant proportion of this went to supporting the conflict-affected populations inside Syria and refugees in neighbouring countries and regions.