Biden refers to humanitarian catastrophes in Ethiopia and Venezuela in tribute to aid workers who serve ‘at great personal risk’ to assist people hit by famine

U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday morning paid tribute to humanitarian workers on World Humanitarian Day, specifically singling out the humanitarian catastrophes in Ethiopia and Venezuela.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed © Donat Sorokin/TASS Host Photo Agency 
SOCHI, RUSSIA – OCTOBER 22, 2019: Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed welcomed at Sochi International Airport as he arrives to take part in the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit. Donat Sorokin/TASS Host Photo Agency Ðîññèÿ. Ñî÷è. Ïðåìüåð-ìèíèñòð Ýôèîïèè Àáèé Àõìåä, ïðèáûâøèé äëÿ ó÷àñòèÿ â Ñàììèòå Ðîññèÿ-Àôðèêà, ïîñëå ïðèëåòà â àýðîïîðòó ãîðîäà. Äîíàò Ñîðîêèí/ôîòîõîñò-àãåíòñòâî ÒÀÑÑ

“In Venezuela, Ethiopia and other conflict-afflicted regions, aid workers serve at the frontlines, often at great personal risk, to deliver supplies to the hundreds of thousands of people experiencing famine conditions,” President Biden said in a statement received by Today News Africa in Washington D.C.

“On this World Humanitarian Day and every day, we stand in solidarity with aid workers and recognize their tremendous service and sacrifice. We celebrate their tireless efforts to save lives, preserve human dignity, and alleviate suffering. Their selfless commitment and actions stand as an example to us all. We will also make sure to have their backs as crises and conflicts arise by leading with our diplomacy and our humanitarian aid,” Biden wrote.

Several humanitarian workers have been killed in Ethiopia during the devastating conflict in the Tigray region.

For months, the United States and others have called on the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali to allow safe passage of humanitarian assistance for hundreds of thousands of people who are at increased risk of famine.

But such calls have failed to yield any positive result. USAID Administrator said last week that the situation in Ethiopia is not a crisis but a catastrophe.

In his full statement, President Biden wrote, “On this World Humanitarian Day, we pay tribute to the humanitarian workers and everyone on the ground – from all walks of life and nationalities – advocating for and delivering life-saving aid to the most vulnerable every day. We also reaffirm our commitment to put human rights at the center of our foreign policy – not through endless military deployments, but with our diplomacy, our economic tools, supporting aid workers and organizations, and rallying the world to join us.

“This year, more than 235 million people in over 56 countries are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. Aid workers have responded to historic numbers of people fleeing political repression, persecution, armed conflict, gender-based violence, and natural disasters. Add to that the difficulties of facing down a global pandemic and an accelerating climate crisis. Extreme weather can exacerbate forced displacement globally, and climate-related impacts increase the risk to marginalized communities already displaced by conflict.  

“Yet, even faced with the unprecedented scope and scale of challenges, humanitarian aid workers across the globe distinguished themselves through their courage, commitment, and drive to help their fellow humans in need – often at extreme personal risk to themselves. Last year, 475 aid workers lost their lives or were injured or kidnapped. The United States stands with our partners around the world to condemn the killing, kidnapping, or any other attack against humanitarian aid workers and we honor the noble service of the many continuing to serve in the face of these threats. Health workers across the globe, disproportionately women, have worked tirelessly on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, delivering care in some of the most challenging environments. When a second major earthquake rocked Haiti, aid workers responded to the call. In Afghanistan, the United States is supporting humanitarians working around the clock to protect the most vulnerable, including women and girls. Aid workers rushed in to provide relief items to those displaced in northern Mozambique as violence reached unprecedented levels. People facing persecution and fleeing the coup and subsequent violence in Burma are receiving critical protection services from aid workers.

“In Venezuela, Ethiopia and other conflict-afflicted regions, aid workers serve at the frontlines, often at great personal risk, to deliver supplies to the hundreds of thousands of people experiencing famine conditions.  

“On this World Humanitarian Day and every day, we stand in solidarity with aid workers and recognize their tremendous service and sacrifice. We celebrate their tireless efforts to save lives, preserve human dignity, and alleviate suffering. Their selfless commitment and actions stand as an example to us all. We will also make sure to have their backs as crises and conflicts arise by leading with our diplomacy and our humanitarian aid.”

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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