KUWAIT: Kuwait’s International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO) Chairman Dr Abdullah Al-Maatouq has called on conflicting parties across the world to observe international humanitarian law and to protect civilians in general and aid workers in particular. Al-Maatouq, who is also an advisor at Amiri Diwan, said in a statement to KUNA on the occasion of the World Humanitarian Day, which falls on August 19, that it is the responsibility of world leaders and humanitarian, civil and rights agencies to protect civilians in flashpoints.
He condemned a recent attack that killed a number of people, including Kuwaiti activists Dr Waleed Al-Ali and Fahad Al-Husseini who were on a humanitarian mission in Burkina Faso. He deplored this attack as a “terrorist and despicable act” that targeted innocents at a restaurant in Ouagadougou, saying that it contradicts all religions and international humanitarian norms and conventions. He remembered the activists who lost their lives during their humanitarian missions in Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Somalia and others.
In this context, he commended the designating of August 19 as a date for remembering the heroic and great activities of humanitarian aid activists who were killed during wars and conflicts, as a good gesture and sign of appreciation. The IICO chief appealed to the international community to provide all types of protection and security to humanitarian workers, and to oblige conflicting parties to put in place the UN resolutions that aimed to create safe passages for humanitarian workers.
Meanwhile, he highly appreciated humanitarian activities in Kuwait as a model for others to follow, especially regarding cooperation with international humanitarian organizations over relief initiatives that are intended to alleviate the sufferings and woes of disaster-affected people. He also hailed the pioneering humanitarian positions of Kuwait and His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Humanitarian Leader.
On 19 August 2003, a bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad killed 22 humanitarian aid workers, including the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. Five years later, the General Assembly adopted a resolution designating 19 August as World Humanitarian Day. The Canal Hotel bombing was a massive loss for the United Nations and the humanitarian community, and marked a turning point for humanitarian operations in Iraq and worldwide. – KUNA