Westminster Abbey memorial for foreign aid workers planned

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If the plan goes ahead the site will be Britain’s first official monument to those killed performing humanitarian aid work across the world. Project managers are hoping the memorial will be installed within the next few years.

As a first step, on World Humanitarian Day on 19 August representatives of the British government, the UN and aid agencies will attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Innocent Victims Memorial in the precincts of Westminster Abbey.

This will be the first gathering of its kind in Britain to mark World Humanitarian Day. The day commemorates the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad on 19 August 2003, which killed 22 people, including the special representative of the UN secretary general.

The British government also reportedly intends to use its current chairmanship of the UN Security Council to press for a debate on the safety of aid workers on World Humanitarian Day.

Canon Andrew Tremlett, sub-dean at Westminster Abbey, said: “When somebody has died taking in aid during a conflict they might come into the national limelight for a moment and then the world moves on. And I think for their families actually having something that is a permanent memorial is probably the key thing.

“It is also a way of saying that we as a nation are honouring service that is given often out of sight and often out of a real sense of duty.

“They are people working in extreme conditions but often their service is not recognised or acknowledged.”

Over the late 20th-early 21st century there has been an explosion of humanitarian workers in warzones, Westminster government estimates there is something like a quater of a million aid workers currently in action.

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