The Somali government and the UN Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Wednesday called for protection of aid workers providing life-saving assistance in Somalia.

“On the occasion of World Humanitarian Day, the Federal Government of Somalia and the United Nations in Somalia are calling for the protection of aid workers who provide life-saving assistance to vulnerable children, women and men in the country. These workers are #RealLifeHeroes,” the UN office in Somalia said in a statement.

The operating environment in Somalia is particularly challenging for humanitarian workers due to widespread insecurity and poor infrastructure which hampers the delivery of assistance to people in need, according to the UN.

“Access constraints surged during the first half of 2020, with 141 incidents reported against humanitarian operations by the end of July, compared to 151 in all of 2019. Eleven humanitarian workers were killed, 11 wounded and 23 kidnapped, including seven who were kidnapped and murdered in a single incident,” said a joint statement by the Somali government and the UN.

“I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Somali aid workers, for their continued and unwavering service to humanity in one of the world’s most dangerous operating environments,” said Hamza Said Hamza, the Somali humanitarian affairs and disaster management affairs.

This year, World Humanitarian Day has come at a critical time when the triple threat of COVID-19, floods and desert locusts has aggravated Somalia’s complex and protracted humanitarian crisis.

“The humanitarian community estimated that 5.2 million people would need assistance and protection in 2020, but the situation is worsening. Without sustained assistance, 3.5 million people will fail to meet their minimum food needs by September. In addition, we must shift the paradigm to sustainable solutions that help build resilience and lift people out of poverty,” said UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Adam Abdelmoula.

Somalia is one of the dangerous places for humanitarian aid workers. Last May, seven humanitarian workers were kidnapped and killed by unknown gunmen in the vicinity of Gololey, 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu.

Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.