To mark the 15th anniversary of a deadly bombing on the UN’s Headquarters in Baghdad, the European Union paid tribute to the commitment of aid workers who risk their lives to deliver humanitarian aid worldwide.

The unequivocal respect of international law, the safety and security of humanitarian workers, and their unfettered access to those in need are a major concern for the European Union, said the EU’s Vice-President/Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini and Christos Stylianides, the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.

“Civilians often pay the highest price in conflict, and attacks, including against aid workers, continue to happen. Over the past year, from Afghanistan to Nigeria and from the Central African Republic to Yemen, these attacks have claimed the lives of civilians and humanitarian workers. These acts of violence are a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law. Saving lives should not cost lives. Almost 4,400 humanitarian workers have been victims of major attacks over the past two decades. Over one-third of them were killed. World Humanitarian Day is an opportunity to honour these dedicated humanitarians, and to advocate for their safety and security. All parties to conflicts have an obligation under International Humanitarian Law to ensure the safety of humanitarian workers and to facilitate unhindered and sustained humanitarian access so that assistance can reach all people in need. The EU is a world leader in humanitarian assistance. Promoting principled humanitarian aid and respect for International Humanitarian Law remains at the core of our international engagement,” Mogherini and Stylianides said in a joint statement ahead of the anniversary of the Baghdad bombing.

On August 19, 2003, five months after the start of the US invasion of Iraq, a suicide bomber drove a truck full of explosives into the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad,  killing 22 people – among them Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and head of the UN mission in Iraq.