Until recently, I’d never heard of Omar Barakat. Now it’s a name I cannot forget.
Omar in Syria.
Both Omar and I are part of the same humanitarian network – the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – although it was unlikely that we would ever meet. My role is predominately based in the UK, while Omar was to be found crossing front lines in Syria to deliver aid.
The main thing that united us was a motivation to help people in need – whoever and wherever they are. Not anymore.
Omar died one month ago. He was among the people killed when an aid convoy came under attack near Aleppo, Syria. An aid convoy. Trucks carrying vital humanitarian supplies for people caught up in a bloody conflict.
Omar is but one example of an aid worker who has lost their life while trying to help others. Google ‘aid worker deaths’ and you will see how the number of incidents and lives lost are creeping ever higher.
When did it become okay to deliberately target humanitarian aid? When did it become okay to deliberately target hospitals and civilians? When did it become okay to just look the other way?
There is a danger that we start to accept these increasingly frequent attacks as merely a part of modern-day warfare. To do so, would be to betray the memory of people like Omar.