Thursday, August 25, 2011

Protecting Aid Workers in Conflict Zones

According to the Aid Worker Security Database (AWSD), 184 international and national aid workers were killed in 2010, an increase from the 162 workers killed in 2009, which itself was a sharp rise from the 53 reportedly killed in 2000.

But Oliver Behn, the European Interagency Security Forum coordinator, maintains that it’s difficult to assess an overall rise in aggression against aid workers, as the Aid Worker Security Database reveals several countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo – where the vast majority of attacks on workers occur.

“You have to be careful to place it in a larger picture because if you removed these countries from the picture, there would be a very different overall conclusion,” he said.

A recent issued report from the AWSD (Aug 2011) - link here - included these top findings:

The past two years show a downturn in violence
against aid workers that spiked in a small
number of conflict contexts beginning in 2006
and peaking in 2008.

 The recent decline in attacks is mainly due to
the shrinking presence of international aid
agencies in the most violent settings, Somalia
in particular, rather than improving security

 The incidence of aid worker kidnappings
continues to rise dramatically, and the use of
major explosives has emerged as a tactic of
violence in a small number of settings.

 Despite overall improvements in aid agencies’
security risk management, national aid workers
perceive continued inequities in security
support compared with their international

 National aid workers, while less subject to major
attacks per capita than international aid
workers, nevertheless form the majority of
victims, and their specific security needs
require more attention.

Many of the larger aid agencies such as IRC, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, through a new initiative called Saving Lives Together as discussed in a recent article (here) by Amy Lieberman for Devex.

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