Thousands of selfies are to be displayed on a 3D installation at the United Nations in New York to highlight the plight of millions caught in conflict worldwide and demand protection for those trying to help them, the world body said on Friday.
The U.N. is asking people around the world to add their names to a petition calling on global leaders to protect civilians and aid workers – not with a pen, but by submitting a selfie online.
The 3D images will be projected onto a mirrored glass structure at the U.N. building in what it is calling the first-ever “living petition”.
“It is unconscionable that civilians and the aid workers who are trying to help them are killed and maimed in conflict zones with utter impunity,” said Mark Lowcock, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
“We need this to end.”
In 2017, 139 aid workers were killed, more than 100 wounded and 76 kidnapped while doing their jobs, according to the annual Aid Worker Security Report compiled by independent research group Humanitarian Outcomes.
The death toll was the second highest on record and 23 percent up on the previous year.
Syria was named the most dangerous place for humanitarian workers for the second year in a row in 2018 in a separate analysis by charity CARE International, accounting for more than half of 76 deaths recorded so far this year.
Experts say aid agencies need to do more to help workers who suffer from mental health problems such as depression, burnout and anxiety after exposure to traumatic events.
The U.N. installation is part of the #NotATarget campaign marking World Humanitarian Day on August 19, and will remain in place throughout the U.N. General Assembly in September, when the world’s heads of state gather in New York.
“The thousands of faces that make up the living petition will be on display to remind world leaders of their legal obligation to protect civilians in conflict,” said Lowcock.
Almost 32,000 civilians were killed or injured by explosive weapons last year, a 38 per cent increase on 2016, OCHA said.
“It is imperative that we hold men with guns and power accountable,” said Lowcock.
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