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Page last updated at 01:37 GMT, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 02:37 UK

UN marking first humanitarian day

A man receives UN food aid in northern Pakistan on 8 July 2009
The UN wants to highlight the vital contribution of humanitarian workers

The United Nations is holding its first ever World Humanitarian Day to honour international aid workers.

The UN hopes the event will focus attention on aid workers and increase support for their role.

Aid staff are working in increasingly dangerous environments and are frequently targets of attacks, it says.

Last year 122 international aid workers were killed, a death toll that was higher than that for UN peacekeeping troops.

The inaugural World Humanitarian Day falls on the sixth anniversary of the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, in which 22 workers died.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the UN in in New York to remember the victims of the 2003 attack.

File photo of bombed UN headquarters, August 2003
The day comes six years after the bombing of the UN's Baghdad office

Photographs showing humanitarian workers in action will also be exhibited after the ceremony.

The BBC's correspondent at the UN in Geneva, Imogen Foulkes, says that aid workers are increasingly being targeted by armed groups.

Killing or kidnapping them has become for some a legitimate tactic.

The UN hopes the day will serve as a reminder that aid work is based on a very simple principle: to bring impartial humanitarian relief to all those in need, our correspondent says.



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