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Washington (AFP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry appealed Tuesday for better protection for aid workers in conflicts around the world as the number killed hit a record in 2013.

Figures published Tuesday by the consultancy group Humanitarian Outcomes said 155 relief staff were killed last year, mainly in Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, Sudan, and Pakistan.

“As the world’s largest donor of humanitarian assistance, the United States remains steadfast in our commitment to doing everything we can to provide for humanitarians’ safety and security,” Kerry said.

“But today of all days, we remember the men and women who pay the ultimate price as a result of their devotion,” he said, in a statement to mark World Humanitarian Day.

The day was set aside to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the U.N. office in Baghdad, which killed 22 U.N. employees.

The U.N. Security Council, in a special session Tuesday, discussed ways to better protect aid workers and heard testimony that local aid workers have borne the brunt of the risk in dangerous areas.

AFP Photo/Rob Griffith

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