Statement by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice on World Humanitarian Day


Office of the Press Secretary


On World Humanitarian Day, we honor humanitarians across the globe for their compassion and their courage.  We remember the 22 UN and relief agency staff who died in a Baghdad bombing on this day 13 years ago as well as the nearly 4,000 other aid workers who have been killed, wounded, or kidnapped in the past two decades.  Humanitarians deserve our support, respect, and praise not just for their work, but for what they represent: our capacity to help those who are suffering, regardless of where they come from, what language they speak, or how they worship.

Humanitarian crises are not distant tragedies.  Today, there are a record 65 million people displaced inside their own countries, living as refugees or seeking asylum. More than 130 million people across 40 countries are in need of humanitarian aid. The scourges that many flee – political repression, chronic violence, and natural disasters – cannot be defeated by building barriers but only by building hope and compassion. These are global challenges that demand collective action.

And as world leaders gather at the 71st session of the UN General Assembly, President Obama will convene a Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, highlighting the United States’ continued leadership on humanitarian assistance.  The Summit aims to significantly increase humanitarian funding, to double the number of refugees who benefit from resettlement or other humanitarian admissions programs, and to help empower refugees in countries of asylum – building on our commitment for a stronger, more accountable international humanitarian system capable of meeting today’s unprecedented needs.